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Japan funds new TBC with $56 million Pa’anga

Hon Poasi Tei (left) and Hon Misi Sika (right) with Ambassador and his wife. Photo: JAPANESE EMBASSY

Nuku’alofa – April 1, 2019: 8.50pm (Nuku’alofa Times): Japan is giving $56 million pa’anga to help rebuild the Tonga Broadcasting Commission.

The money will go towards building a new company office plus upgrades to systems within the radio and television station.

Work started on March 29 as the Government of Japan and the Government of Tonga marked the commencement of the Project for the “Nationwide Early Warning System and Strengthening Disaster Communications (NEWS),” with the ground breaking ceremony of the new headquarter broadcasting building at Fasi moe Afi, Nuku‘alofa.

Hon Semisi Sika at the event

Hon Semisi Sika and Ambassador Ishii at the event. Photos: JAPANESE EMBASSY

PR_Groundbreaking NEWSProject (final)-4Semisi Sika, Deputy Prime Minister of Tonga, was the guest of honour at the ceremony, attended by His Excellency Mr. Tetsuya Ishii, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Tonga.

Also present at the event were Hon. Poasi Tei, Minister for MEIDECC and other Ministers of the Cabinet, Representative to the Legislative Assembly, Head of Diplomatic Missions, Representatives from NEMO and National Disaster Management Agencies, Government and Business Representative, Board Members of the Tonga Broadcasting Commission, JICA-Tonga Officials together with Japanese Representatives from the Projects stakeholders.

Ambassador Ishii said that the “fundamental goal of this project is to alleviate damages caused by natural disasters through the improvement of facilities and equipment for disaster early warning information system, which will operate at the all-embracing national level.”

The project is a Grant Aid Assistance from the people and the Government of Japan with an approximate worth of 2.8 billion Japanese Yen, equivalent to over 56 million Tongan Pa’anga.

It is formulated based on the Japan’s Country Assistance Policy to the Kingdom of Tonga, other important development frameworks such as the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP), and SDGs “no one left behind.”

“The NEWS project will deliver disaster warnings to everyone in Tonga in a prompt, interactive and stable manner,” the Ambassador said.

Its three main components are the Early Warning Sound Alert System with 75 outdoor sirens and 514 indoor Remote Activated Receivers (RARs); Emergency Radio Communication System strengthening network to distribute messages interactively; and upgrading TBC headquarter broadcasting building and the Public Radio Broadcasting Network to expand coverage of the AM radio throughout the country including remote islands of Niuafo’ou and Niuatoputapu.

Ambassador Ishii also emphasized three points for the effective use; facilitating regular trainings and capacity building for relevant officials, consideration for improving rules to facilitate the system more promptly, and awareness for the people through evacuation drills at schools and communities from ordinary days.

He concluded his remarks by highlighting the upcoming Enthronement Ceremony of the Emperor of Japan, the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics and 50th Anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Japan and Tonga.

The the new studio building will replace the first ever Broadcasting Studio Building for Tonga that was commissioned by Her Late Majesty, Queen Salote on July 4, 1961.

Hon Sika said the construction of the new building was symbolic.

“This is a high priority where early action is essential to save lives and to protect livelihood and property during the most challenging and difficult times of disaster and emergencies,” he said.

“The importance of this project is achieving the goals of the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.”

He thanked the people and Government of Japan for the worthy and timely project and acknowledged the partnership saying “together we can save lives and properties of our people.”

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