Into the unknown
Some months before, on a blistering hot day, David Perbey a Civil Maritime Engineer from Royal HaskoningDHV visited Tonga for the first time.
He and his team were visiting as part of a feasibility study which had been funded by The Asia Development Bank (ADB), a bank which has a mission to achieve a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific.
The project? To re-evaluate and optimise the country’s only port, prepare it for future growth, and increase its resilience to climate change and natural disasters. Doing so would help protect the present and future prosperity for 100,000 Tongans and ensure the Kingdom could act as a hub for inter-island trade.
Looking at his notes over lunch in a local café, David could see that the now 50-year-old port had begun to show signs of falling behind, with degrading infrastructure, poor lighting and not enough space for longer and bigger ships – vital for a smart, sustainable port of the future. But, due to lack of funds, the Tongan Government was unable to maintain, upgrade or improve it.
As David tucked into his Ota 'ika (a delicious local dish consisting of raw fish marinated in citrus juice and coconut milk), he wondered how bad the port could really be?
He had been working at Royal HaskoningDHV since 2007 and had operated on some truly complex projects – this one seemed like a walk in the park!