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TSRA approves more than $1M for safe transport infrastructure on Ugar

Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) has approved over $1 million of funding for safe transport infrastructure projects on Ugar in cooperation with the Torres Strait Island Regional Council (TSIRC).

Funding has been committed to the key infrastructure projects that include a fenced and secured fuel bowser, an upgrade to the Ugar Island helipad and subsidised air transport.

The TSRA Chairperson Mr Napau Pedro Stephen, said the TSRA is continuing to work with the Torres Strait Island Regional Council to explore opportunities for further cost effective, safe transport options to the Ugar community.

“As Ugar Island is a volcanic atoll and the only air transport that is possible is by helicopter,” he said.

“The island is also surrounded by reef, therefore causing difficulty accessing the land during low tide.

The TSRA Safe Communities Programme worked in close cooperation with TSIRC representatives to identify the most cost effective and safe transport options available under the conditions of the funding.

Since 2013, two successive TSRA Boards have allocated a total of $3 million to address the lack of all tide transport access for the residents of the Ugar Island community in the Torres Strait.

The TSRA Board had originally intended to develop infrastructure solutions such as reef dredging and rock groyne construction to ensure all weather transport access to the Ugar community. TSIRC is currently undertaking an environmental assessment of infrastructure alternatives, however these options may be unfeasible for both cost and environmental reasons.

TSIRC Mayor Fred Gela said Ugar community have suffered major access issues for many, many years.

“With no local airstrip and without an all-tide access marine facility my people have been greatly restricted and at times, island bound,” he said.

“Our elderly and frail are the ones who suffer the most. TSIRC provides a helicopter subsidy scheme during the festive season to assist families that are unable to move freely, simply because of affordability and rough weather.

“I thank Chairman Pedro Stephen and the TSRA Board for their financial contribution. It will certainly bring about positive change to the lives of Ugar families. This investment will deliver a regular transport scheme throughout the year and should remain in place for a number of years.”

The TSRA is currently working with TSIRC to confirm the viability and arrangements for additional transport options as outlined by the TSIRC.

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