Pangai Si‘i green bulldozed to make way for new Tonga Government building

A landmark area in the Central Business District, Pangai Si’i has had many of its trees chopped down and the ground bulldozed this week to make way for the construction of a new government building, dubbed ‘St George Palace’.

The multi-million pa’anga project funded by a Chinese grant to the Government of Tonga was originally set to start in November last year but was deferred to August this year after the Coronation celebrations.

A press statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said work on clearing the site has begun. Trees were completely removed from the Railway Road side of the park opposite Parliament House.

No mention was made of the fate of Tongan War Memorial and the iconic band stand located at Pangai Si’i.

St George Palace is expected to be a four-storey building to house the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Finance and National Planning with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade as well as meeting rooms for government purposes.

A groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of the construction work is expected to be held at the end of this month.

Shanghai Construction Group Ltd of China will carry out the work which is expected to take about 20 months.

This project was initiated in 2010 by the late King George Tupou V.

The park located behind the Treasury building opposite Parliament House and close to the Ministry of Environment, was the only green in town used freely by the public. This leaves the foreshore and a small children’s playground as the remaining green areas which are accessible to the public, apart from the Mala’e Pangai Lahi next to the Royal Palace.