Initial steps towards establishment of the Ministry of Transport were initiated in August 2004, emerging from a comprehensive Transport Sector Review funded by the World Bank that highlighted the fragmented institutional set-up of Tonga’s transport sector and a commitment by the Government at that time to separate regulatory and service delivery functions. The Review recommended the establishment of an integrated Ministry of Transport that would bring together responsibility for all modes of transport into a single agency and to provide a sound basis for managing Tonga’s transport sector.
In 2006, the first in a series of reforms aimed at consolidating transport functions was affected through the merger of the Ministry of Marine & Ports and Ministry of Civil Aviation into the Ministry of Transport (MOT). The transferring of “transport” related functions and responsibilities from other ministries in 2008 (see below) was an added development in the consolidation of all “transport” related functions in Tonga, under the Ministry of Transport.
Government is now reforming the whole government structure and has enacted the merger of the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and Ministry of Works (MOW) functions into a new Ministry of Infrastructure (MOI) as a further means of unifying these Government organizations whose functions and responsibilities are alike. The reasons in support of this move are as follows:-
1) Pursuant to Cabinet Decision No 738 of 9 July 2008, direction was granted for the transfer of all “transport” related functions and responsibilities from the Ministries of Civil Aviation, Marine & Ports, Labour Commerce and Industries, Lands Survey & Natural Resources, Police; and Works, to the Ministry of Transport.
2) Following the Ministers’ and CEO’s retreat conducted in Vava’u in May 2011, a strong recommendation was made for a “restructuring” of government organizations, under the new government. This reformation recommended that Government Ministries carrying out similar functions/responsibilities be amalgamated, with the objective of reducing the number of Government Ministries to about 14, and this included the proposed amalgamation of the Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Works, and Ministry of Communications. Subsequently, Government decided in January 2012 to move the whole of the Ministry of Information and Communications to the Prime Minister’s Office.