THE SOLOMON Islands Government officially launched the $56.2 million Rapid Employment Project (REP) in Honiara yesterday.
The launch represents the culmination of the preparation and the commencement of the REP.
The REP aims to provide short-term employment and training for the urban unemployed in Honiara. The Project will provide the opportunity for urban residents to increase their incomes through short-term employment and acquire the knowledge, skills and experience that are necessary to operate in the work place.
The project, which is being jointly implemented by the Honiara City Council (HCC) and the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, will provide roughly 500,000 days of work to approximately 7,500 beneficiaries over a five-year period. The employment opportunities will mainly consist of works in and around Honiara, such as road repair and maintenance, garbage collection and other labour intensive activities with a focus on those areas less well served.
It is expected that a majority of beneficiaries would be youth (ages 16-29) and women. To ensure that beneficiaries can participate effectively in their work, additional pre-employment training, which focuses on work safety practices and work-place skills, such as understanding supervisory relations, use of hand tools and learning the benefits of community service, will be provided by the project.
Funding for the Project is being provided by the World Bank. Additional co-financing is being provided through the World Bank’s State and Peace-building Fund and the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility, which is also co-funded by AusAID and the New Zealand Government.
Kanthan Shankar, Operations Manager for Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands for the World Bank, said at the launch that “the World Bank is delighted to provide assistance to this important project and would like to especially thank AusAID and the New Zealand Government for their support.
“Through this collaboration, the Government and development community recognizes the unique challenges urban unemployment presents and the project will provide the means for the Government to directly address the needs of the urban poor through the promotion of legitimate income earning activities,”
Minister of Infrastructure Development, Stanley Festus Sofu added his congratulations and thanks and commended the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Honiara City Council for initiating the project.
He added that “the Rapid Employment Project provides an important opportunity for the people of Honiara to make a contribution to the City and improve and benefit their own communities through the works and training that will be offered through the project.”
The HCC and the Ministry of Infrastructure Development are now hiring project staff and will begin to hire contractors and fund community groups to support the various work schemes and training. An initial pipeline of works will commence next month.