Four years ago on 16 November 2006 the heart of the Nuku'alofa Central Business District was destroyed by protesters but on November 19 the keys to three new multi storey buildings were handed over to their owners by the Prime Minister Dr Feleti Sevele in a ceremony at the International Dateline Hotel.
The handover marked the completion of Phase One of the reconstruction of the Nuku'alofa Central Business District.
Fires set by rioters and arsonists destroyed 75 percent of the Nuku'alofa CBD on the day known as "16/11" leaving the business centre along with its fragile economy in ruins.
Last Friday's handing over ceremony was three years to the date in November 2007 when the Kingdom of Tonga signed a 440 million RMB loan from the EXIM Bank of the People's Republic of China in Beijing for the reconstruction of the Nuku'alofa CBD. Work began with ground breaking ceremony on 18 November 2008.
Charles Nepia, the Project Engineer for the Nuku'alofa Reconstruction Project said that the three commercial buildings that were completed under Phase One were the Taumoepeau Building, the Royco Building and the O. G. Sanft Building. The new extension to the Royal Palace was also included in the Phase One construction that has been completed.
Charles said that Phase Two will see the construction of Tungi Arcade, the Golden Apple Building and Molisi Tonga, as well as the Vuna International Passenger Wharf.
Alos underway is the Civic Work, including the construction of a drainage system, the laying of underground telecommunication and electricity cables and the building of footpaths.
At the handover, the new Chinese Ambassador to Tonga, HE Mr Wang Dong Hua said that four years ago the Nuku'alofa Central Business District was destroyed, "but today we witness the completion of Phase One with the completion of three beautiful new buildings." He said that reconstruction work is a reminder of friendly relation between the People's Republic of China and Tonga.
He also acknowledged the work that hads been carried out by the major contractor, the China Civil Engineer and Construction Company CCECC. He said that CCECC is one of the biggest construction companies in China, and it had also carried out extensive work in Africa. The Deputy Manager of CCECC's Tonga operation Huang Donglin also attended the ceremony.
The Prime Minister Dr Feleti Sevele responded to the Chinese Ambassador's speech and reminded the ambassador of the close and friendly relation, between Tonga and China.
He told the land owners that the government would neither force them out off their land or their buildings even if they faced financial difficulties.