The Australian Defence Force is continuing to support Australian Government assistance to the Government of the Solomon Islands as they work to respond to the needs of people affected by severe flooding late last week.
Defence has an Assessment Team working with Australian Government personnel on the ground around Honiara and continues to provide strategic air-lift support to the Australian response.
A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-130J Hercules transported Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) representatives and the Defence Assessment Team to Honiara on Sunday 6 April.
A second RAAF C-130J Hercules carrying an additional personnel and Australian AID humanitarian relief supplies arrived on Monday 7 April.
Today, a RAAF C-17A Globemaster aircraft departed RAAF Base Amberley transporting Australian Federal Police personnel, a Queensland Fire Brigade Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) team and additional humanitarian aid supplies.
The Defence Assessment Team are conducting rapid damage assessments and providing specialist planning support to the DFAT relief efforts to assist the thousands of effected residents in and around Honiara.
There are now 16 Defence personnel deployed in Solomon Islands and Defence stands ready to provide additional support as part of the DFAT coordinated response as required. Defence has a strong relationship with the Solomon Islands people following completion of Defence’s 10 year commitment to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands that concluded in August 2013.
Opening Honiara’s Mataniko Bridge
Australian Defence Force specialists have provided a vital engineering design solution allowing Honiara’s key Mataniko Bridge to be reopened to heavy vehicle traffic for the first time in 5 days.
The Mataniko Bridge along Honiara’s main supply route is one of the few remaining bridges on the island, but suffered severe damage after several days of sustained rainfall resulted in the flash flooding.
"It was important we quickly came with up a solution to increase the load capacity of the damaged bridge," said Army Engineer Major Karl Reynolds from the Brisbane-based Deployable Joint Force Headquarters.
"Without heavy vehicle traffic flowing between key infrastructure nodes on both sides of the Mataniko River it was going to be almost impossible for Honiara to get back on its feet.
“It was an absolute priority to get the bridge reopened, and it was a great combined effort with engineers from the Solomon Islands, DFAT and the Australian Civilian Corps to get the repairs affected by 08 April."
The 16 member Defence Assessment Team was sent to Solomon Islands with 12 hours notice, and is a key part of the DFAT led rapid response efforts, following a request for assistance from the Government of the Solomon Islands.
"Our rapid-response mechanisms and our ability to seamlessly integrate efforts between Australian government partners and with the Solomon Islands and non-government agencies on the ground has been greatly appreciated by everyone here. , the feedback across the board has been extremely positive."
Requests for further information regarding the situation in Solomon Islands should be directed to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.