Upgrades at the Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF) Cook Barracks under the Cook and Tiroas Barracks Redevelopment Project are progressing well since they started earlier this year.
CAPTION: Australian Army Warrant Officer Class Two Jamie Miller and Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) Constable Junior Borenga at the construction site for Project 222 at Cook Barracks, Port Vila. Story by Sackrine Kaman, Vanuatu Police Force. Photo by Sackrine Kaman, VPF Media Team.
The Cook and Tiroas Barracks Redevelopment Project is a joint initiative between Australia and Vanuatu to deliver enhanced infrastructure to the Vanuatu Police Force (VPF).
The project is aiming to improve facilities and accommodation at Cook Barracks in Port Vila and Tiroas Barracks in Luganville to allow the VMF – a subsidiary to the VPF – to continue growing and delivering services to the nation when the need arises.
Supported by the Vanuatu-Australia Defence Cooperation Program, the project is a collaborative effort between the Vanuatu Police Force, ADF, and Australian and Ni-Vanuatu industry, with more than 200 construction workers from local Vanuatu building companies and head contractor Icon and Reeves International on site daily.
Australian Army Warrant Officer Class Two (WO2) Jamie Millar has played a significant role as an engineer in the Cook Barracks’ upgrades, and was happy with the way the project was advancing.
“It’s going well, hopefully in the next two to three months we will start to see a lot more progress as materials arrive,” WO2 Miller said.
“We do have some issues with COVID-19 and shipping, however the contractor, Icon Reeves, have managed to progress even though we have some of those issues.”
WO2 Millar explained that the pandemic presented some challenges, but the collaborative efforts of all involved has allowed them to find solutions to these challenges and continue with the project.
“Icon Reeves identified COVID-19 as a risk from the start of the project, so within their logistical planning they planned ahead to ensure that materials turned up when they were required,” he said.
“Sometimes there are obstacles, such as ships being delayed and that is out of their control, so we just have to wait and see when they turn up, and then progress from there.”
Construction to date at Cook Barracks has focused on the construction of new accommodation, a chapel, band hut and medical facility.
The next stage of works will focus on the construction of new vehicle and engineer workshops, armoury and magazine.
WO2 Millar explained how the construction designs have a particular focus on natural-disaster damage mitigation.
“The designs are made so the concrete footings, blockwork and steel structures are very strong,” he said.
“It allows the structure to take a high wind load, and if there’s an earthquake there’s enough reinforcement to ensure if there is a shake it doesn’t damage the structural integrity of the building.”
WO2 Millar said that despite the challenges COVID-19 has presented, he has had a very positive experience working on Project 222 at Cook Barracks.
“I’ve done a lot of these types of projects in different countries; I really enjoy engaging with the local communities,” he said.
“I especially enjoyed my experience in the local Ni-Vanuatu communities.”
Work at Tiroas Barracks in Luganville, which will include construction of a new medical facility, armoury and magazine, are scheduled to commence in early 2022.