MAJURO – A two-year-old engineering report saying the main terminal at Majuro Airport was unsafe but was not followed up became a major talking point in parliament this week as the government set to develop a temporary solution to problems.
The Amata Kabua International Airport terminal poses a “high risk to the general public and those using the facility”. That was the conclusion of a technical review of airport facilities conducted in the capital of the Marshall Islands almost two years ago, but never implemented by the Marshall Islands Ports Authority or the national government until the start of this week.
Speaker David Kabua raised the concern over the airport terminal and discussed the report by Hawaii-based engineering firm Pryzm Consulting at several Nitijela (parliament) sessions this week.
He described the terminal as being in “poor condition” and “unsafe for the public”. He pointed out that the Pryzm report was released in February 2020. Due to the urgency of the issue, the President has instructed his staff to provide the report for distribution to all Nitijela members.
“The main terminal building requires immediate attention based on the inspection and analysis carried out,” said the February 2020 Pryzm report. . There is a high risk to the general public and those using the facilities. »
Pryzm engineers identified termite damage and live termite activity in various support beams as the main hazards.
A critical main terminal support beam had, as of February 2020, lost more than half of its load capacity. This beam is a main support for the roof of the terminal and the “roof frame…is a non-redundant load-carrying system”, which means that the roof structure depends largely on this single support beam. As a result, “This area may be prone to collapse depending on the extent of termite distress,” the report said.
The president said the Pryzm report showed the terminal needed immediate action. He added that it could be a big liability for the Marshall Islands government if there was a problem with the roof. He also noted that United Airlines had already moved from its main office to the terminal due to security issues with the facility.
United Airlines left its office in the main terminal in November after an employee fell through the termite-damaged second floor. United officials said they had been in communication with the Port Authority for many months about the deteriorating condition of the office area.
The president mentioned that there is a Japanese aid project underway to build an additional water reservoir near the airport as well as another to fund a new airport terminal. He suggested the need to discuss with the Japanese government the possibility of advancing both projects in light of the state of the terminal.
Following the distribution of this engineering report several days ago, Public Works Minister Jiba Kabua said he and engineers from his ministry had already met with the Port Authority and local contractors to discuss options. action on the installation. They are considering a temporary renovation that may improve the security of the facility until the Japan Airport terminal project kicks into high gear in the future.
Foreign Minister Casten Nemra briefed Nitijela on discussions he had with Japanese Ambassador Kazunari Tanaka following the President’s comments and the release of the Pryzm report. Nemra said the Ambassador recognizes the importance of the terminal project and the current situation of the terminal which needs to be renewed. Nemra said he would work with the ambassador on the matter.