|Monday, 4 November 2013Tess Ingram|
PERMANENT post-processing accommodation for asylum seekers will be built in western Papua New Guinea, with a wall of silence surrounding the project’s progress and plans.
|Image copyright Commonwealth of Australia/Dept of Defence.|
While very little has been revealed about the Australian government’s plans for the accommodation, PNGIndustryNews.net understands ground has been broken onsite, with site clearing in progress.
Neither the former nor current government has revealed a capacity ceiling for the centre, but it is expected the permanent post-processing accommodation will initially be developed with beds for a few thousand asylum seekers.
Former Immigration Minister Tony Burke said in August that the vacant site had been nominated by the PNG government and, if needed, could eventually hold up to 10,000 people.
And Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told media at a recent Operation Sovereign Borders briefing that site clearing and access road work was already underway on the East Lorengau site.
According to an AFR report, PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has confirmed considerable expansion is underway on Manus Island.
“I understand from the Australian government they are willing to have an expansion of up to 3000 people and that is what is happening at present,” O’Neill told an Australian Institute of Company Directors lunch in Brisbane on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Australian High Commission in PNG said Australian contractor Decmil had been appointed the managing contractor for the East Lorengau project.
This would be Decmil’s second contract on Manus Island, with work already underway on an expansion project at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre in Lombrum.
The High Commission revealed the new Lorengau centre would be constructed on the eastern side of the province’s capital Lorengau as soon as the PNG government finalised the transfer of land.
A fact sheet produced by the High Commission reported that Decmil had called for expressions of interest from subcontractors and suppliers across a variety of areas.
Decmil has an expression of interest form on its website for the $137 million Lombrum project and despite the project being due for completion in January 2014, the closing date for applications was extended to October 4.
Manus Island MP Ron Knight has said that capacity at the Lombrum facility has been reached, with 1137 people being housed there. However, Morrison has denied this.
“We don’t report on what the capacity is at both of those places, only to say that there is sufficient capacity and we are expanding that capacity,” Morrison said at the October 25 operation update.
The Australian government is spending $600 million over four years as part of the expansion of Manus Island, including $194 million in construction costs in this year alone, according to the AFR report.
A spokesman for Decmil said the company could not provide any comment at this time.
Despite repeated attempts by PNGIndustryNews.net, Morrison’s media office did not return calls for an update on the Lombrum project’s progress or confirmation of Decmil’s second contract.
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