Q&A: How a New Port is Building Skills and Knowledge in Nauru

Article | 8 April 2020

Nimitz Adam, 39, from Boe District, is a mechanic at Nauru’s Aiwo Boat Harbor. Since construction began on Nauru's new port in October 2019, the father of 6 says the people of Nauru are beginning to realize their dream of having an efficient, reliable, and climate-resilient international port.

“The new port will be like a lifeline for the people of Nauru.”

Nimitz Adam, mechanic at Nauru’s Aiwo Boat Harbor

Nauru is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to disasters caused by natural hazards and the effects of climate change. With a population of about 13,000 people, the island nation is highly dependent on maritime transport for its way of life.

The $79.59 million Nauru Sustainable and Climate Resilient Connectivity Project—cofinanced by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Green Climate Fund, and the governments of Australia and Nauru—is transforming the boat harbor into the country’s first international port and cargo terminal. The new, climate-proofed port will be central to meeting the Nauruan people’s needs for fuel, food, and medical supplies and will improve the country’s maritime trade and connectivity, and will promote economic recovery. It’s also presenting a vital opportunity for workers here to improve and update their skills and knowledge.

How long have you worked at the boat harbor and what does your job involve?

I have worked at the Aiwo Boat Harbour for almost 16 years. I repair and maintain vehicles and equipment around the site. I like working with my hands.

Tell us about the training you’re undergoing as preparation for operating the new port?

All of us here will be given training in everything to operate the new port. Formal training in maritime safety, stevedoring, cargo-handling and maintenance and accounting begins in a couple of months, but we have already received training in welding and electrical work. I am looking forward to the new training as I’m sure it will help me do my job better. It’s important to learn new things. When you work here at the port you need to have multiple skills and by strengthening the skills of the workers, the Nauru Port Authority will also be strengthened.

Describe what life is like working at the old port?

The old port is about 100 years old and was falling apart. It is very rundown. The loading and unloading of cargo from container vessels and fuel from tankers has become very dangerous and sometimes life-threatening. Our work here is challenging, and we work hard.

How different do you imagine working at the new port site will be?

We have dreamed of this new port for so many years. Conditions for workers at the new port will be safer and equipment will be updated. I think our work will become easier and more enjoyable and we’ll feel more supported by the government. Hopefully, my children can work there in the future.

What will the impact of the new port be for people here in Nauru?

The new port will be like a lifeline for the people of Nauru. It will let us get our food and other supplies from overseas quicker, will help create jobs, and the new port will be safer for the port workers, especially when the weather is bad