UP to TOP$12 million is needed to build a new golf course at Popua.
This is the estimated cost for construction of a new one at the area. According to the Prime Minister the cost will be cheaper than the proposed expansion and upgrade of the ‘Atele golf course which is estimated to cost of about TOP$14 million. This includes land lease fees.
The Hon. Prime Minister, ‘Akilisi Pohiva revealed this in Parliament when much of the debate surrounding issues relating to Tonga’s effort to hosting the Pacific Games 2019 on Wednesday.
Hon. Pohiva was replying to a letter from the President of the Tonga Amateur Sports Association, Lord Tupou and Chair of Organising Committee, Lord Sevele ‘o Vailahi.
They call for Parliament’s action in fear that Tonga will be stripped of its rights to host the 2019 Pacific Games.
The plea was announced amid concerns that building of sports facilities is late and very likely Tonga will not be able to host the upcoming event.
In his response, the PM was confident to say the construction of sports facilities will be ready by 2019. He also announced that the Government has opted to build a new golf course at Popua which will be built on government owned land.
The Organising Committee’s initial plan for the golf course is to expand the ‘Atele golf course. Lord Tupou and Lord Sevele stated it was the most reasonable choice, thus allowing more time for revamping of the existing one at ‘Atele.
In rebuttal Pohiva says after some feasibility study of Popua, the predicted cost for ‘Atele is more costly than the one for Popua.
“TOP$12 is estimated for building a new golf course at Popua…while around TOP$14 million if Government is to spend money on expanding the ‘Atele golf course.
If Government is to spend TOP$14 million at ‘Atele, when the sports finished, the ownership will go to Sione Wight and the noble estate holder. With the Popua one, the land will remain the government’s property after the sports,” explained the Hon. Prime Minister.
He advised Parliament, Popua is the ideal area and that he recently found out Government in the 1990s also had plans for the same purpose.
Pohiva said Government technical experts have begun work to implement the project. An American designer will also be here in Tonga next week.
Meanwhile the technical team today presented their proposal of the Popua project to Cabinet.
Hon. Pohiva maintains Popua is the ideal area that will help to boost tourism in the future.
The PM also considers other locations for the new golf course including New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga College ‘Atele, Kauvai, Tufumahina with Popua his last option.
Other facilities that the TASA and the OC were concerned about is the renovation of Teufaiva Sports Stadium and the field. They said nothing was done in the past two years, yet less than three years remaining for the actual Pacific Games on July 8, 2019.
Lord Tupou and Lord Sevele maintained the failure to successfully implement plans of actions in the past two years in upgrading of Teufaiva Stadium and construction of a golf course are indications of problems in the process.
Their frustration with the PM is because Pohiva disregards the OC’s action plans. As a result, Tonga had lost its chance to host a rugby match against Wales in June at Teufaiva.
They say the initial plan to upgrade the Teufaiva Stadium facility was to be implemented in December 2015 and completion date by March 31 this year.
A company from New Zealand called the Creative Spaces Ltd was given the green light to manage the project at the tune of TOP$24 million. The decision was approved by both the Audit and Governance Authority (AGA) and Government Facilities Committee. However, this did not go as planned.
In December 2015, according to Lord Tupou and Lord Sevele, the Hon. Prime Minister rejected the project proposal of Teufaiva Sports Stadium which prevented the Creative Space Ltd from implementing the project.
The pair also mentioned that efforts were made with Government in September 2015 to speed up the process. Unfortunately the Prime Minister, ‘Akilisi Pohiva was not supportive.
“Hon. PM continually interferes and intervenes with the Organising Committee and Government Facilities Committees’ plan of actions,” according to Lord Tupou and Lord Sevele ‘o Vailahi.
They claim the PM also appointed another government official as the project manager.
According to Lord Tupou and Lord Sevele ‘o Vailahi the initial cost for upgrading of Teufaiva was TOP$24 million. Now the cost is soaring by TOP$3 million due to the fluctuation of the currency exchange rate.
Meanwhile the PM reaffirms Parliament Tonga will host the rugby match with Wales in June.
He says the Cabinet has dealt with the matter. First, they will upgrade the rugby field and the bathroom facility with tracks to be replaced after the June game.
He adds it is up to Wales to decide whether to come to Tonga or New Zealand as it was originally scheduled. But Cabinet has made the confirmation to Wales, Teufaiva will be ready for the upcoming game.
He also confirms, despite the delay in rebuilding of Teufaiva, the sports stadium will be upgraded to the international standard required for the 2019 sports.
Despite the negativity from the TASA and OC, Pohiva confirmed the sports will go as planned