Chile's Ministry of Public Works (MOP) recently announced its decision to fund construction of a new docking pier for Easter Island, near the in Rapa Nui part of the island.
Easter Island receives around 4,000 visitors each year, many arriving by seafaring cruise ship vessels. Larger boats, however, must often station themselves one kilometre out from the island and ferry passengers.
Bad weather conditions, however, can make the ferrying process untenable, said MOP Port Works National Director Daniel Ulloa. Sometimes, ships have to wait five days to get to shore because the rowboats . . . cannot handle the turbulent water. In the case of cruise ships passengers, special boats are used to transfer tourists to the island, but still, they are not the best or most secure option.
The projected Papa Nui pier will be built on stilts but has yet to be designed. It must also be discussed and approved by Easter Island residents.
MOP studies show three options for the location of the pier: Hanga Piko, Vinapu, and Papa Haoa. Papa Haoa seems to be the site with the best technical feasibility and its cost would be the lowest, 20 million US dollars.
In the cases of Hanga Piko and Vinapu, construction costs would jump to 60 million and 70 million, respectively.
In addition there is a matter of visual impact,” said Ulloa. “A pier in Hanga Piko and Vinapu would require major construction, which would affect the landscape. In the case of Papa Haoa, only a pier would be required.”
The construction project has yet to consult the Papa Nui population. Possible pier construction in Papa Haoa has received some community opposition.
Hanga Piko is an area that has already had human intervention,” said Alberto Hotus, president of the Rapa Nui Community Elders.
“We are a community that lives on tourism and looks after the preservation of the ecosystems. It does not seem right to us to start construction in an untouched area.” Santiago Times