Christmas Island, Kiribati– The Cassidy Airport Meteorological Station in Kiritimati Island was officially opened today by His Excellency the Honourable President Taneti Maamau, alongside Building Safety and Resilience in the Pacific (BSRP) Project Manager Mr Taito Nakalevu.
The rebuilding of the MET Station was identified by the European Union funded BSRP Project and the Kiribati Government as a key activity to support as it will strengthen operational support for Cassidy airport, following its recognition as an international airport. The new MET Station is a standalone building that houses five MET Officers who work round the clock to provide clear weather forecasting to support air traffic movements.
The information gathered by the MET Station will also be used to guide those living in the outer islands on determining whether it is safe to venture out to open sea and it will also support the National Disaster Office in preparing for on-coming disasters such as tropical depressions, storm surges and droughts.
Speaking at the opening HE President of Kiribati Taneti Maamau, said, ‘We are grateful and proud of the work supported by the European Union through Pacific Community implemented BSRP Project in Kiribati. Through our long-standing partnership throughout the years, we have been able to foster a healthy working relationship that allows for sustainable development across the country and our region. This newly extended and refurbished MET Station further reinforces the fact that Kiribati is preparing for the future. We as i-Kiribati are taking steps towards ensuring that our nation won’t be wiped out by disaster or climate change’.
The Minister for Line and Phoenix Islands Development, Hon. Mikarite Temari, further stated, ‘The Cassidy Met Station will ensure that Kiribati meets its international aviation obligations and the Cassidy runway lighting project will be completed before end of this year will provide night time landing for aircraft. In addition, the new Cassidy terminal building currently under construction, together with other projects currently being implement, reaffirms the commitment of the Government, to develop Kiritimati Island in line with Kiribati Vision-20 (2016-2036) to improve the livelihood of the people of Kiribati.’
The EU Ambassador to Kiribati based in Fiji, H.E Julian Wilson, conveyed his warmest wishes and congratulations to the HE President Taneti Mamau on the opening of the MET Station. ”The MET station and other disaster risk reduction measures that the EU has been supporting through the BSRP project, reduces the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters. More resilient communities allow Kiribati to focus more on development activities and be less affected by disasters when they strike,” he added.
Apart from the MET Station, the BSRP Project is working with the Kiribati Disaster Risk Management office to implement several other activities, some of which include the review of the national disaster act, the establishment of Island Disaster Committees and the establishment of a National Emergency Coordination Centre.
‘The BSRP Project takes a national approach to disaster resilience, the work we do focuses on strengthening the foundation of a nations approach to disaster as well as improving the operational systems to withstand the impact of future disasters. This MET Station will play a fundamental role in disaster preparedness which ultimately contributes to increasing Kiribati disaster resilience.’ BSRP Project Manager, Mr Nakalevu said.
The new MET Station building, cost the project AUD 90,000. The MET Station was supplied with MET Equipment by the Finnish-Pacific (FINPAC) Project with the support of Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). The equipment included, Anemometer, Barometer, thermometers and FINPAC is also organising a technical assistant from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in New Zealand install the equipment and provide training to technical staff.
During his time in Kiritimati Island, the President also visited the Kiritimati Island Water Project and the Kiritimati Island Energy Sector Programme sites. Both projects are jointly funded by the EU and the Government of New Zealand that support the Line and Phoenix Integrated Development Strategy 2016 – 2036 in developing the supporting infrastructure in the water and energy sectors.
The Kiritimati Island Water Project, implemented by SPC in partnership with the Government of Kiribati, aims to provide safe and sustainable drinking water to communities. . The President visited the newly constructed Decca-London water supply infrastructure.
The Kiritimati Island Energy Sector Programme aims to provide improved access to affordable, reliable and clean energy on the island. The president visited the new solar diesel hybrid power station near London which will power most households on the island and is nearing completion.
Both the projects will officially be opened in May 2018.