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Vanuatu Transport Sector Support Program (TSSP)

Our Role

From July 2014 to June 2018, SMEC was engaged by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs to manage the Vanuatu Transport Sector Support Program Phase 2 (VTSSP2), which supported Vanuatu’s Public Works Department (PWD) to plan, build, maintain and operate its rural road infrastructure.

During the five-year program period, SMEC’s role included financial management, personnel management and the provision of technical advice and support. SMEC also supported PWD with significant capacity development and streamlining of processes, systems, skills and resources to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its core activities.

Project Overview

The Vanuatu Transport Sector Support Program Phase 2 (VTSSP2) is an Australian Government aid initiative working with the Vanuatu Public Works Department (PWD).

The Program goal was to provide the people in Vanuatu with reliable access to a well maintained, affordable and integrated road network.

Phase 2 comprised the rehabilitation and construction of 350 km of priority roads on the Islands of Ambae, Malekula and Tanna.


  • Rural road construction and maintenance
  • The all-weather passable rural road network increased by 30%, and the proportion of Vanuatu’s rural population who have access to an all-year passable road increased by around 13%. This equates to an increase of around 2.6% per year during the five-year program, much greater than the initial target of around 1% increase per year.

    The R4D program also increased private sector involvement in rural roadworks to help stimulate economic growth and reduce PWD’s reliance on limited in-house resources. Communities became involved in maintaining their local roads through ‘community-based contracts’, a concept unique to R4D. Small ‘island-based contractors’ were also used extensively for road works

  • Institutional development
  • With R4D support, PWD was able to transition itself from a public agency directly delivering road maintenance and construction projects to a performance-focussed road network manager outsourcing much of its works to an increasingly capable private sector. This change meant PWD reduced its reliance on in-house resources by 53% from 2013 to 2018.

    Notably, the successful outcomes of the R4D program were delivered with broadly the same level of Australian government investment as originally planned. With a more strategic focus combined with efficiency gains, R4D achieved greater impact in terms of promoting accessibility.

    Technical Area:
    Education Governance & Government Advisory / Transport
    Vanuatu Public Works Department

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