Vanuatu daily news digest | Friday 31 October 2014

Those involved with the Singaporean company, Vanuatu Trade Development Limited (VTDL) are still blathering on about how much better would be their 350 million US dollar 747 airport at Rentabau than any repairs to Port Vila’s 737 Bauerfield. RNZI reports the aviation engineer Victor Craig of Leading Edge Aviation Planning Professionals saying an extension of Bauerfield is unworkable and if a cosmetic asphalt layer is put on the runway it will be a waste of money. Well, of course. (Is that what they would have provided – something cosmetic if contracted?) Craig says Vanuatu now wants to repair Bauerfield. Yes, of course. And that is all Vanuatu has ever instructed its officials to arrange unless ministers had other, grander, self-interested (?) policies in mind. Vanuatu needs regular flights and lots of them from neighbouring countries which produce the majority of tourists and from places with which we have regular business dealings. The ATR and 737 are ideal for this purpose, and Bauefierld has been fine for them for decades. But VTDL never produced anything, including never producing a runway repair proposal which was what was required. RNZI reports Craig saying Vanuatu has an opportunity to refine its travel and tourism capacity and to access the greater economic benefits that would bring. He was not asked for a new vision for Vanuatu as a tourist mecca or financial hub. VTDL was asked for runway repairs and couldn’t deliver. VTDL should now move aside and shut up as Vanuatu learns from its mistakes. We didn’t learn how to ensure repair of the staff accommodation at British Paddock / Independence Park in 60 years, so it’s falling down. We didn’t learn how to repair a sports stadium in 20 years, so it has to be demolished. We are building a convention centre but which was being queried a year ago by the former incoming government. But Carcasses still went ahead with the idea. When will we bulldoze that white elephant? Government is best employed looking after the people and making sure our existing runways serve their needs. That is happily what the Natuman Government is trying to do: what VTDL surely could not.

PM Natuman is likely to meet with French President Hollande in Nouméa in a fortnight at a regional leaders’ meeting concerned with climate change and France’s position in the matter. Natuman will be given a private audience with the French Head of State on November 17, and has indicated his pleasure in such a conversation. He also paid a tribute to France’s decision to retain its diplomatic post in Vanuatu where it represents the European Union as well as the long time partner in this country, France itself. "We are pleased with France’s on-going relations with Vanuatu," he said.

Other stories from my on / off week of the TVL internet …

Before her departure HRH Princess Anne paid a tribute to Vanuatu’s custom governance. It was good to see how this could shape Vanuatu’s affairs in the modern environment of excessive technology, she said. Custom villages around the world are so often overtaken by events, she added. She appreciated how people could still live in a traditional fashion at Iakel village, Tanna, according to custom principles. "Community involvement can really make good sense whether there is modern technology or not," said the Princess Royal as reported by VBTC News. Princess Anne also visited Paunagisu Health Centre and village.

Seventy primary schools of Shefa Province have been sitting their Class 6 exams this week. This is said to be to establish the quality of the teaching in those schools. It will help Shefa Education in its planning, the Department says.

Government is to appoint an arbitrator to adjudicate the matter of "Joshua and Others" reports the Acting Police Commissioner. Acting Commissioner Maralau reported this through Radio Vanuatu News after his meeting with the Prime Minister in the matter. Hearers felt it quite likely he would be a witness on one or other side in any such arbitration. He has also been making his voice heard in social matters such as warning against the use of marijuana by the young.

Staff of Meteorology and Geo-Hazards are working round the clock from the start of the hurricane season (now) to ensure our safety the press was assured in a press conference recently. Prognostications indicated the possibility of a couple of serious cyclones for Vanuatu out of 8 – 12 in the Pacific region, VBTC News reported. Communities were encouraged to plant now the food crops like kumala, water- and Fiji-taro and wild yam which could provide their food needs in the event of really damaging winds.

Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) announces its new Board on the TIV Page of Daily Post today. The Interim Board was re-appointed. Chairman is Dr Willie Tokon, Secretary Joe Kalo and Treasurer Wilson Toa. The 5 other members were not named. Transparency reports evicted voters from Destination disappointed with their MPs failure to "react positively towards them when they needed support."

David Browning tells this newsblog of the thorough professionality of the late Douglas Malosu who "gave great service to Vanuatu. Unfortunately," says Browning, "a lot of his good work was damaged by incompetent politicians who have disrupted agricultural extension work since Independence." Happily the present government does seem to be trying to restore agriculture to its rightful place in the estimation of the majority who have the resources to engage in it.

The Vanuatu Cultural Centre will host Miss Culture to celebrate World Culture Day, Daily Post reports. It will encourage local designers to show off their talents. The aim is to promote and preserve aspects of traditional culture including clothing, and each contestant will be involved in modeling traditional as well as present day popular clothing. World Culture Day is just two weeks away, Friday 14 November.

The national congress of the National United Party on Ambrym has been moved from November to May next year.

Former Vanuatu conman Peter Foster has demonstrated his ultimate inability to get away with deception in photos taken during his recent arrest in Australia following his involvement in a bogus weight loss product. The immensely over-weight Foster was caught in a police and television stake-out at Southport, Qld. Fatty Foster was involved in a AUD6 million Sensa-Slim product scam, Daily Post yesterday explained.

Happy Halloween everyone.

Vanuatu daily news digest | 30 October 2014

Princess Anne has left after a visit to our Save the Children branch, of which international charity she has been President for 40 years.

X-ray machines for the wharf and the airport have arrived in the country. And the next Air Vanuatu ATR plane is undergoing final checks in Malaysia before arriving here.

Vanuatu has successfully completed the second cycle reviews under the Human Rights Council periodic review for developing a national human rights framework. These are to protect our most vulnerable people – women, children and those with a disability.

The World Bank recognizes Vanuatu’s efforts to digitise the Lands Registry, and the country’s efforts made to hire new Lands Department staff and have therm appropriately trained.

Sheila and Douglas of TVL have greatly assisted your editor to get the newsblog going again after it was unfortunately switched off yesterday. Thank you Sheila and Douglas! Full service will be restored tomorrow.

Vanuatu daily news digest | TVET increasingly agricultural

This blog has obtained further information concerning the changes foreseen in the Vanuatu Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) programme, said to be one of Australia’s most successful aid programmes. The new government’s focus on agriculture as the "backbone of the country’s economy" is being underscored by TVET beginning to concentrate more heavily on agriculture, forestry, fisheries and livestock in a way which has been abandoned since the Comprehensive Reform Programme (CRP) did away with many of the field officer posts in the Agriculture Department. Agriculture DG Howard Aru and TVET executive Yanhambath signed an MoU last Friday to start training in the TVET centres already established – Torba, Sanma and Malampa. Tourism has been considered as the major economic sector, but as Agriculture Minister Tosul pointed out at the signing ceremony, agriculture is the most important sector relied on by the majority of the population. Improving agricultural production was seen as one of the core values of Independence and the move to assist farmers to better manage their land and its potential will undoubtedly be beneficial to the majority. The ability of TVET to incorporate such training in its regional centres will be appreciated by many.

Vanuatu daily news digest | Bits of Australia under Vanuatu

The discovery of a fragment of crust, carried up in magma in Vanuatu, raises new questions about how continents are formed

Australian Associated Press

Monday 27 October 2014

A tiny piece of ancient Australia has been found under Vanuatu, raising new questions about how continents are made.

Geologists thought the volcanic Vanuatu islands, about 2,200km east of Townsville, were isolated from continental influences.

But a research team from James Cook University believes Vanuatu’s geological basement contains ancient material from northern Australia.

They discovered volcanic rocks from Vanuatu contained tiny crystals of zircon, carried up in magma from the depths by the volcanic plumbing systems.

Using radiometric dating techniques, the crystals were dated at up to three billion years old.

The range of ages of the zircon crystals closely matches the age of the rocks that make up northern Australia.

Carl Spandler, one of the study’s authors, says the the zircon “shouldn’t be there” and its presence has major implications for how scientists understand continents are made.

“There is nothing else like it in the south-west Pacific,” Spandler said in a statement.

“Just because island chains or land masses may be far removed from each other today, doesn’t mean that they always were. This calls for a rethink of how we calculate the rates and processes of generating new crust on Earth,” he said.

The fragment of Australian crust now under Vanuatu is thought to have separated from the mainland prior to the Cenozoic era, around 100m years ago.

Article ends.

Vanuatu daily news digest | 28 October 2014

HRH Princess Anne has started hearing the closing comments in the Emerging Pacific Leaders’ Dialogue concerning the challenges the administration of governance and the economy present to the young people of today. New Zealand, the Solomon Islands and Samoa gave presentations on the first day of the Dialogue yesterday. Radio Vanuatu News reported Her Royal Highness’s comments concerning "trust" as mentioned in the New Zealand presentation. "It is not a word used terribly often, but it is critical in allowing people to do their best. You touched upon it when you mentioned how to involve young people. With my Save the Children hat on, I would say that has always been the key to making a real impact on young people. It is to trust them to have the answer to their problems." the royal visitor observed. Australia, PNG, Fiji and Vanuatu are being heard today. Daily Post reports a custom welcome for Princess Anne led by Chief Raymond Maseiman of Pango in which PM Natuman was present.

Daily Post today reports the death of Douglas Malosu, the first ni-Vanuatu Director of Agriculture. From Nguna, Douglas Malosu was an early student at Onesua (1961) where he has been continually held in high regard, most latterly for organising the Onesua Declaration calling for the high school to offer tertiary studies. A hard working pioneer and dedicated manifestation of the core values of Independence has been lost.

Daily Post carries a report on the boost likely to be experienced by rural businesses in Tafea as MV Touraken makes monthly trips to over a dozen southern ports. The assistance comes under the Inter-Island Shipping Support Project, funded by New Zealand Aid and the Vanuatu Government and with a loan from the Asian Development Bank. The Southern Star experiment is surely now closed and that vessel must be sunk.

The Police have confirmed they hold a suspect in the matter of the knifing of a young girl causing her death at Blacksands. The Acting Police Commissioner urged people there not to try to take the law into their own hands.

Daily Post today carries news of Gilbert Dinh losing his leasehold control of Urelapa Island, South Santo, as authorised by the Valuer General in 2006. A counter claim by Silver Holdings Limited of Robert Herd was upheld. The Supreme Court judgement runs to 16,000 words.

The Waste Management Act and the Pollution Control Act, both operative in June, clarify what the Environment Department expects in order to ensure the correct management of waste material VBTC News reported this morning. The municipal and provincial roles were explained by Environment Director Albert Williams. And the Japanese advisor in the Environment Department spoke of the importance of separating waste according to certain characteristics. A test in this regard is now operative in Freswotas 1 and 6.

Vanuatu daily news digest | 27 October 2014

Princess Anne is in the country and presented an MBE to Tony Whitley, founder of the Rowhani Bahai School at Santo (covered by Daily Post) as well as attended a reception at the Australian High Commission. The Princess Royal’s time is now given over to the Emerging Pacific Leaders’ Dialogue involving young Pacific Islanders from a number of Commonwealth countries, on behalf of her father. She will also be visiting one of her favourite charities, Save the Children, and her visit ends on Wednesday.

Radio Vanuatu News this morning carried the Agriculture Department insisting on replanting of coconuts since the majority inspected are considered beyond the useful age. Coconuts continue to be the cornerstone of the rural economy.

Radio Vanuatu also carried the Teaching Service Commission’s Derek Alexander (Chairman) saying that starting next year all teachers must be graduates of the Vanuatu Institute of Teaching Education, rather than only from universities. Work has begun in issuing teaching licences at year’s end. They are to be the guarantee of quality education, he said.

Daily Post also reports a legal framework for the Efate Port Vila Land Transport Assn. An Ambassador drivers’ training workshop has been taking place at the Vanuatu Hotels Training Centre, with New Zealand assistance, and the Chairman of the Tourism Ambassador Programme, George Borugu, announced the new policy at the training activity.

Training of trainers on career counseling for young people was the subject of an ILO course greatly assisted by the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry(VCCI) very recently. The training was said to be particularly helpful for VCCI staff representing employers, to be able to understand the preparation the young persons need. The Chamber was also greatly assisted by Rotary in recently in training for small and micro-business owners.

A Designs Act and Trademarks Act have been gazetted and came into effect on October 9. Full details are given in Daily Post.

Vanuatu daily news digest | 25 October 2014

Daily Post’s today outlines the steps being taken by the Natuman Government to remedy the situation as regards Bauerfield Airport. A World Bank team is arriving this week to assess the situation and a geotech consultancy is being appointed, Marango is advised by the PM’s Information Officer Kiery Manassah. The consultancy will give a study concerning the extent of the damage to the runway and the funding required for repair. There is a new Task Force. It is having nothing to do with VTDL which took the results of its survey with it when Parliament voted against its proposals.

The Independent, the newspaper run as a charity, however, has its editor saying that "absolutely nothing is happening as regards repairs at Bauerfield". He is certainly not very charitable in what he says, nor even slightly accurate, and must still be listening to the sacked Task Force. That one certainly did not see anything happen in a year or so.

Customary land owner Kalpovi Mangawai has agreed the Ministry of Infrastructure and Public Utilities (MIPU) use his land and beachfront near Ifira Point for the location of a temporary inter-island wharf facility. It will be a pontoon for loading and unloading of inter-island vessels as the Star Wharf is reconstructed under the Inter-Island Shipping Support Project.

Diamond-backed squid have been confirmed by Fisheries as being found in Vanuatu waters under the Grace of the Sea project. It is felt they may be able to be harvested in commercially worthwhile quantities. The Fisheries Department has been demonstrating the catch at their headquarters, VBTC News reports. Tourism personnel were also present.

The Independent reports Princess Anne here for the Emerging Pacific Leaders Dialogue for this year, involving chosen young people from around the region.

Santos Vatoko, CEO of the VNPF, responds to recent criticism in the media. On the Post VNPF page he suggests the Banian subdivision investment was processed in accordance with normal assessment protocols. A VNPF Erangorango decision has been delayed until certain conditions are fulfilled.

A Supreme Court order presently prohibits the government from acquiring Freshwind land, some 58 lease titles to protect the water source for the town. It appears a Supreme Court case, No. 171 of 2011, must first be determined before an acquisition can proceed. (Daily Post.)

The fair trade association ACTIV on Thursday launched a delicious new local industry which ‘adds value’ in a way all can appreciate – a chocolate industry. Cocoa beans used in the manufacture and testing of the local product were tested by a panel of experts. Daily Post reveals the very best seemed to be from Malekula,


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