Tuvalu

Construction of 500-metre-long seawall commences in Tuvalu

The construction of a 500-metre-long seawall is currently underway in Nukufetau, Tuvalu. More than a year on from when Tropical Cyclone Pam battered the island of Tuvalu, the new seawall will ensure the Nukufetau atoll is better equipped to handle cyclones and other severe wet weather events. The $8 million project which was commissioned by […]

Peni Shute

August 24, 2016 9:37 am

The construction of a 500-metre-long seawall is currently underway in Nukufetau, Tuvalu.

An aerial view of the construction of the seawall in Nukufetau.(Hall Pacific)
An aerial view of the construction of the seawall in Nukufetau. (Hall Pacific)

More than a year on from when Tropical Cyclone Pam battered the island of Tuvalu, the new seawall will ensure the Nukufetau atoll is better equipped to handle cyclones and other severe wet weather events.

The $8 million project which was commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme is being undertaken by dredging and civil contracting company Hall Pacific and is expected to be completed towards the end of 2016.

Hall Pacific Managing Director Cameron Hall said Tropical Cyclone Pam had devastated the atoll’s coastal defences in March 2015 causing significant damage to the existing seawall on Nukufetau’s north side.

HALL: “The severe wave action resulted in concrete blocks dislodging from the existing seawall and damaging the community settlement, including the atoll’s infrastructure and environmental assets.”

Hall Pacific Managing Director Cameron Hall.
Hall Pacific Managing Director Cameron Hall.

Mr Hall said the cyclone highlighted the inadequacy of the existing seawall and the importance of having a robust barrier in place to protect against large waves along the open stretch of coastline.

HALL: “A lot of thought and careful planning has gone into designing the replacement seawall.”

Mr Hall said Nukufetau’s low elevation and the limited land area made the atoll particularly vulnerable to coastal erosion and inundation, and to combat this, the Hall Pacific team had proposed designs for submerged wave breaks as part of the project.

HALL: “Submerged wave breaks also known as artificial reefs are used to dissipate wave energy, and will effectively reduce the height of a wave before it reaches the seawall. This greatly reduces the chances of the atoll sustaining damage from large waves.”

An aerial view of the construction of the seawall in Nukufetau.(Hall Pacific)
An aerial view of the construction of the seawall in Nukufetau. (Hall Pacific)

He said that they have also recognised the need for an additional seawall crest, which will improve resilience to overtopping.

HALL: “The 500-metre-long replacement seawall will span more than three metres high and protect the Tuvaluan community for years to come.”

Mr Hall said Fijians and Tuvaluans made up the majority of the project workforce, with six Tuvaluan locals trained as truck drivers, machine operators, and leading hands as part of the works.

HALL: “Where possible, we aim to source all general and skilled laborers from the island where the project is based, and we’re proud to have a total of 19 Pacific Islanders working as part of our team in Nukufetau.”

Another aerial view of the construction of the seawall in Nukufetau.(Hall Pacific)
Another aerial view of the construction of the seawall in Nukufetau. (Hall Pacific)

Mr Hall said while the remote location of work site presented a unique set of challenges, the Hall Pacific team was well-equipped to tackle the task at hand.

HALL: “Logistically, Nukufetau is only accessible by sea, which means our crews are flown to the main island of Funafuti, and then travel by ship for a further 10 hours until they reach the atoll. To ensure we can accommodate workers in the remote camp, we have mobilised all equipment and supplies on our barge, including excavators, trucks, food, fuel and water.”

Hall Pacific is an Australian owned company which services the Pacific Islands region and specialises in climate change adaptation.

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