Vanuatu daily news digest | 14 January 2013

A wrap-up from the last few days’ news:

senior Minister in the Kilman Government is facing multiple allegations of rape, this blog has learned. More on this story as details come to hand.

Daily Post reports that a Chinese woman was seen running in Nambatu last week from two Chinese men who were pursuing her. The men were said to be the woman’s employers in the “hospitality” industry. The woman had been beaten. She was taken to the Police Station, and police also interviewed her attackers, Daily Post said. This attack raises the ugly possibility that Chinese nationals are engaged in human trafficking and sexual slavery within Vanuatu’s borders.

PM Sato Kilman has created a position for MP Moana Carcasses to work on political and technical co-operation, Radio Vanuatu News told us on Saturday. The post will have the same powers as a Minister, and all the perks, we would assume, but will it have any any of the oversight and accountability that a Ministerial role is supposed to have under the Leadership Code Act? Not that this has proved much of an impediment to illegal and unethical dealings by Ministers in the past, of course…

Deputy Prime Minister Ham Lini wants an airport capable of handling 747s on Efate. He has been “meeting with a group of Koreans who obviously have the money and are willing to fund a new international airport to cater for 747 and 767 types of aircraft”, which raises the question of where the long-range 747s and 767s might be coming from, and for what purpose. Fully-laden 747s need 3,100m of runway and much more room than Bauerfield has currently for ground manoeuvring. Minister Lini as Minister for Trade has been heavily promoting Asian investment in Vanuatu. Airports require large amounts of flat land, and most the remaining level land on Efate is highly fertile agricultural land that supplies Port Vila with food. The area of the World War II airstrip at Takara, north Efate, is already earmarked for the KuTH geothermal energy project. Lini also rules out Luganville for such an airport: “The environment [there] is not ready to take on board such a project”, he says.

The Vanuatu Police Force and National Housing Corporation remain within the portfolio of the Prime Minister, where they were moved last year. Police were previously the responsibility of the Minister for Internal Affairs, while the National Housing Corporation was with the Finance Minister, said Radio Vanuatu News at the weekend. No reason was given for this clarification or its timing. A large number of Government houses around the Independence Park and Joint Court areas, many of them previously homes for serving police officers, have been left to rot, when all they need is renovation. Are Kilman cronies about to receive some gifts of Government land?

The Vanuatu Government announced Vt 900 million in new projects with China on VBTC News this morning. A Chinese delegation is presently in the country and spent yesterday visiting project sites, including the planned convention centre adjacent to Parliament, where a groundbreaking ceremony was held. Agreements were signed yesterday afternoon. New buildings for Malapoa College are also included in the total, and a technical team will come to Vanuatu to study the proposals for the school.

Now that the former DG of Health, Howard Aru, has been returned to the position following the outcry from senior health professionals, he is tackling the problem of the Health Ministry’s accumulated debts of over Vt 90 million, with assistance from overseas donor countries. DG Aru was tackling this problem when suspended by Minister Don Ken, reports Daily Post today.

The Government has not extended annual grant funding of Vt 100 million promised to the Vanuatu Agricultural Development Bank in 2007, says the Bank’s Board of Directors. The Chairman, Willie Karie, said the Bank was unable to obtain the funding last year. The Bank started in 2006 and began issuing loans in 2008.

The Melanesian Spearhead Group Silver Jubilee will be celebrated soon, starting with an official launch on 28 January at Independence Park in front of the MSG Secretariat building, says the cover story of the Daily Post today. Each country will have a Melanesian Week. PNG holds its celebration week in February. Vanuatu’s month is March. Solomon Islands holds its in April, Fiji – May and Kanaky – June.


2 Comments on “Vanuatu daily news digest | 14 January 2013”

  1. Alan Churchill says:

    When will the powers that be realise that 747 aircraft are on the decline world-wide. Most airlines are now opting for efficient twin-engined aircraft like Airbus 330 or Boeing 777 or 787.
    AVL have had many studies into its future use and are well-equipped to handle 767 and 330 right now.
    With a small extension of the runway towards Bouffa most Asian airlines could operate non-stop services to Asia. The terminals may have to be realigned to accommodate larger aircraft but this would be considerably cheaper than a new airport. Has anyone considered the major infrastructure developments needed to handle bigger and better services? – roads, hotels, etc. etc.


    • It is some sort of idée fixe, a few decades old now. There is little if any actual intent behind Lini’s comments, it sounds like grandstanding for the benefit of his electorate. Vanuatu’s Ministers are specialists in policy-making on the run.