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.