FRANCE DONATES POWER STATION TO TUVALU'S MARITIME SCHOOL
SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 18, 2001 - Oceania Flash/SPC)---Suva-based French Ambassador Jean-Pierre Vidon last week officially opened a US$ 350,000 power generating station at Tuvalu's maritime school on the island of Amatuku.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony, the French diplomat, who is also accredited to Tuvalu, said the project was funded by a grant from the French development agency AFD and it was designed to "achieve adequate training for Tuvaluan seamen."
The commissioning of the new power station, which is to enable the school to be more self-sufficient in energy, coincides with the announcement last week that Tuvalu received full recognition status from the International Maritime Organization, Vidon noted.
"I have to say that the announcement is for me no surprise in a country which is known for its good governance. Adequate training is indeed part of good governance."
The new facility on Amatuku Island consists of three 60-kilovolt diesel generators and of two kilometers of underground networking to ensure proper power distribution to the school's outlets.
Preliminary studies (carried out by the New Caledonia-based CEGELEC and Somocetra companies) were also funded by France through its South Pacific Fund for US$ 9,500.
"We believe indeed that it is appropriate to involve as much as we can the know-how and experience which are available within the different components of our presence in the Pacific," Vidon said.
Tuvalu's maritime school mainly trains young seamen who are later employed on fishing vessels around the world.
"We all know how important it is to find job opportunities for the new generations. Specially, in this regard, this particular technical course of study is certainly one of the most appropriate I discovered after more than 15 years spent dealing with development.
"Of course, it means for the young Tuvaluans to leave their beloved country for most of their professional life but it is also my own experience and I have no regret about it," 50-year-old Vidon said.