Heartwarming reason behind 'amazing' scenes at mall opening

·News Reporter
·2-min read

There were exuberant scenes in the Solomon Islands on Monday as the tiny island nation unveiled its first ever escalators.

With the grand unveiling of the highly-anticipated AJ City Mall in the capital of Honiara, hundreds of eager shoppers headed to the centre to catch a glimpse of the landmark addition.

Remarkable photos from local photographer Micah Alvince show hundreds packed into the foyer leading to the escalators, many gazing on in amazement.

The unveiling of the Solomon Islands' first ever escalators was a momentous occasion. Source: Micah Alvince/ Supplied
The unveiling of the Solomon Islands' first ever escalators was a momentous occasion. Source: Micah Alvince/ Supplied

Mr Alvince told Yahoo News Australia it was "an amazing feeling" to step onto an escalator for the first time.

"There were people rushing to take a step and understandably because it's the first ever built in the Solomon Islands," he said, adding it was a momentous occasion for a Third World country.

"I've seen [escalators] in videos and pictures from Australia but this is my first time because I've never been overseas. 

"So this was the very first time I've ever put my foot on one... it's an amazing feeling."

Excited shoppers in Honiara are seen making their way up an escalator for the first time. Source: Micah Alvince/ Supplied
Excited shoppers in Honiara are seen making their way up an escalator for the first time. Source: Micah Alvince/ Supplied

Mr Alvince said some people were afraid when they first stepped onto the escalator but soon became comfortable as they travelled up it.

Last month staff were put through training sessions to ensure they knew how to safely operate the escalator and other aspects of the shopping centre, The Island Sun reported.

The mall has been under construction for several years and is the biggest of its kind in the Solomon Islands. Mr Alvince said the mall was not yet completely finished but had impressed the large crowd in attendance on Monday.

The Solomon Islands, roughly 2000km northeast of Australia in the Pacific Ocean, has a population of about 700,000 people. 

It has largely managed to avoid Covid-19, with just 20 cases since the pandemic began and has not recorded a case since April 9. 

However it still has a long way to go in its vaccine rollout with less than 10 per cent of its population vaccinated.

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