Fundraising for Fiji; Methamphetamine lab found in Mele; Vila roads get downgraded

Apologies for missing a couple of days, but your editor is now well and truly back on the job again. It is Chiefs’ Day today (the national day of traditional authority). Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister Bruno Leingkone was in Suva yesterday presenting Fiji’s Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola with the Vanuatu Government’s donation of vt10 million (FJ$190, 523). Meanwhile in Vila, fundraising is proceeding all day for the Cyclone Winston Fiji Relief Appeal. The Vanuatu Fiji Business Association, the Fiji High Commission and the Vanautu Government are all assisting. An estimated 60,000 students in the four affected areas, mostly in eastern Fiji, have no schools. Events are taking place all day today on the seafront in Port Vila.

Yesterday had big news with the Australian Federal Police (AFP), two of whom are forensic experts in country and investigating a laboratory on the Bukura Road, Daily Post told us yesterday. The Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) believes the lab is likely producing methamphetamines, better known as meth, ice or crystal. It is addictive. One man is already held in custody. With the significant Australian population of drug users being our closest big neighbour, we must encourage such help and make use of the AFP savvy whenever we can.

The AFP, whilst here, is also being asked to investigate the fire at the NISCOL headquarters. What a good idea.

In Vanuatu Times this week we were told that a loss of vt748 million through exchange rate fluctuations has meant that plans for re-construction of Port Vila roads will not be to the same standard as originally expected by the Vanuatu Government. Some roads road will get the full asphalt treatment, but not all. These other roads will receive a “double double” seal – two layers of gravel and bitumen. Tony Telford of the Vanuatu Project Management Unit told Lise Brix of Vanuatu Times that the project for road and drainage work was signed in December 2012. Governments or ministers have fudged the issues it seems. We have had four PMs since then, one of whom has been back again in the top job during that time.

I will be back with more on Monday and will have better reviewed the sources of news I’ve missed. Happy Chiefs’ Day.