Official election results expected by weekend; AVL directed to act on Bauerfield airport debacle

People line up to vote in the 2016 Vanuatu General Election  at a polling station on January 22

People line up to vote in the 2016 Vanuatu General Election at a polling station on January 22. Photo: Commonwealth Secretariat

Official results for the snap election are expected by the weekend. The official counting by the Electoral Office personnel is well underway, but the task is daunting — a long one: every ballot paper will be re-counted and checked. Ballot boxes and reports are being collected from remote polling stations by the Solomon Islands patrol vessel. Others are being carried to the capital by plane.

Port Vila’s Mayor Ulrich Sumptoh has been re-elected mayor of the capital by the council. He left the mayoral office to stand as a candidate in the national election but accepts that he failed to win the number of votes to secure a parliamentary seat.

Yesterday’s Daily Post carried the headline AVL directed to act on required measures to ensure jet operations continue at Bauerfield. It is the Director of the Civil Aviation Authority, Joseph Niel, who is doing the directing. If one considers the full history of the upgrading of Bauerfield it is particularly interesting to note that Jotham Napat who was DG of the MIPU (Public Works) ministry back in 2011 managed at that time to secure the AusAID funding for design studies for airport renovation — five years ago. Back in 2011 it was all agreed. However, politics and self-interest saw to changes in government, changes in the sort of airport and airport location we needed and the changes kept on coming. There was the conspiracy to have a new Rentabao international airport able to take many 747s a day from Asia, and so on and so forth, and politicians became more and more committed to shady Far Eastern persons. Civil Aviation (responsible for aviation safety) and AVL (which sacked foreign professionals who might have been of assistance) have finally brought the present situation to a head in which airlines, starting with Air New Zealand, are deciding the risk is too great for them to continue to come here. And now the wheel has maybe turned full circle.

Unofficial election results show the Leaders Party for Vanuatu’s  Jotham Napat who secured the Australian airport assistance funds for old Bauerfield has won an MP place for Tanna constituency. It is not for this website to decide who should do what in any government to be formed, but it is certainly clear the incoming government on 8 February should discuss Bauerfield airport re-structuring with Jotham Napat (the only one who has worked on what has to be done) during tea breaks in Parliament. It is just as well for all concerned we have had good airport weather, thanks to El Niño, for such a long time or the problem might have become much worse. This I am told by aviation industry experts here. New, additional safety measures are being put in place at Port Vila’s international airport, reports Daily Post.

Today’s Daily Post has news of a likely successful candidate promising 100% of his MP salary to chiefs in his area to finance the custom chiefly system of North Ambae. Alickson Vira says he is giving them 6 months to improve the custom governance system in Waluriki or the gift will lapse.

Yesterday’s Daily Post announces the death of the former British Secondary School — BSS (Malapoa College) teacher Jim Carter. He was awaiting heart surgery but a valve blockage occurred causing his death. Jim and Shirley Carter were both well-known and dedicated teachers at BSS in the 1970s.