Japan and Palau sign a Grant Contract for “The Project for Improvement of Airai Causeway Culvert” to assist with the repair of Palau’s major infrastructure connecting Babeldaob and Koror
On September 18, 2023, Ambassador of Japan ORIKASA Hiroyuki and Minister of Public Infrastructure and Industries Hon. Charles Obichang signed the contract for “The Project for Improvement of Airai Causeway Culvert” worth $252,500. The ceremony was held at the Embassy of Japan and witnessed by the Bureau of Public Works Director Brian Melairei, Division of Roads and Equipment Chief Tkakl Mekreos, and Division of Capital Improvement Project engineer Jerald Ismael among others.
The Airai Causeway, along with the Japan-Palau Friendship Bridge, connects Babeldaob and Koror Islands, the country’s two major islands and home to the majority of its population.
“I remember when the Koror-Babeldaob Bridge collapsed” said Minister Obichang. “The collapse cut off not only transportation between the islands but also the vital services including water, sewage, and electricity” Minister Obichang continued.
After the collapse, the bridge was rebuilt as the Japan-Palau Friendship Bridge along with the Airai Causeway Culvert, which had been originally built during the Japanese administration, and was repaired with Japanese aid between 2004 and 2006. Since then, the Causeway has served as an artery between the two islands, providing water, sewage and electricity services between Babeldaob and Koror islands. It serves more than 5,800 vehicles a day travelling between the two islands and provides access to the country's only national hospital on Ngerekebesang Island and the international airport on Babeldaob Island. The Causeway serves as an engine for economic development and social services.
Over the years, waves and sea breezes have caused large areas of the concrete to flake off, exposing some parts of the reinforcing steel inside. Through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Project for Improvement of Airai Causeway Culvert, the Government of Japan and the Government of Palau will work together to ensure the lives of the people of the islands undisturbed.
Speaking at the ceremony, Ambassador Orikasa said, "It is our mission to properly follow up on the projects we have supported in the past, and we will continue to do so with other past and future projects for the people of Japan and Palau. The most important thing, however, is that the people of Palau will continue to maintain this vital infrastructure for many years to come. Let’s work hard together.”
The Government of Japan launched Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP) in 1999 to address the development needs of grassroots activities in Palau. This is the ninety-ninth GGP implemented by the Embassy of Japan for schools, hospitals, government agencies and NGOs based in Palau. For further information about GGP, please contact 488-6455 or visit the Embassy of Japan website at https://www.palau.emb-japan.go.jp/itpr_en/about_ggp.html.