Private Sector consulted on Infrastructure Management Bill (IMB)

Wednesday 14 October, Honiara – The proposed Infrastructure Management Bill (IMB) will provide a more relevant legal basis for the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) to better manage, plan, operate and maintain land transport infrastructure in Solomon Islands.

MID’s Deputy Secretary, Jimmy Nuake highlighted this at a private sector consultation on the IMB on Tuesday 13 October organized and hosted by the Building Construction Working Group (BCWG) established by the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI).

He said improved transport infrastructure will provide solid foundations for the spread of economic development throughout the country.

The proposed IMB will replace the old Roads Act enacted in 1955 which is now obsolete and not practical to the current needs in the transport sector in general.

Mr. Nuake said the main reasons for updating the old Roads Act is to ensure that the safety of road users and buildings by allowing MID to be more responsive to infrastructure failures.

“The proposed IMB will also ensure that road assets remain safe and effective and minimise the cost of maintaining road assets and time delays when maintaining roads assets,” he said.

“A step change improvement will require an infrastructure management system that is robust, timely, efficient and practical, responding to today’s needs but importantly being able to change with time. 

“MID now urgently need this long overdue update to this important transport infrastructure law,” Mr. Nuake added.

BCWG Chairman and SICCI Board Member, Daniel Tucker said the outcome of the consultation was a success taking into consideration the feedbacks shared by private sector representatives with particular focus on concerns raised by State Owned-Enterprises (SOEs) and utility providers in the country.

“The general emphasis was there are still areas for improvements in this Bill, as such, we acknowledge MID for reaching out to the private sector and for taking onboard points that were discussed during this consultation,” Mr. Tucker said.

The BCWG was established by SICCI earlier this year to provide a platform for informed, expert discussions to formulate SICCI positions on measures that can be considered by Government and development partners relevant to the building and construction industry in Solomon Islands.

The key focus for the BCWG are the Infrastructure Management Bill (IMB) and the National Building Code for Solomon Islands, which will be legislated under the IMB.

It is understood that the legal drafting team of the Attorney General Chambers is currently working on a re-draft of the IMB. After national consultations, the Bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament in the second quarter of 2021.

Other key aspects of the IMB is that it:

  • Seeks to provide for the planning, development, maintenance, operation and management of infrastructure in accordance with best engineering and technical practice, and appropriate standards, specifications and procedures applied under this Act;
  • Ensures the appropriate regulatory controls are applied in relation to the protection, operation and use of public assets, and also to infrastructure constructed and maintained for the purposes of development areas;
  • Empowers a National Building Code and improves safety by requiring the proper construction of buildings and structures. Note that we currently don’t have any real legal basis for the interim code we use;
  • And clarifies the procedures for developing public assets, for the assessment of compensation payable in relation to the development and maintenance of public assets.