Vanuatu daily news digest | 2 April 2014Posted: April 2, 2014
Crystal Shores seeking investors for Erakor and Eratap
One of the earliest land projects under the new reforming lands legislation will involve the entire populations of both Erakor and Eratap, jointly and together. South Pacific Ltd, a company of George Winslet, Ric Buckton and Jack Dihm, with project experience in Vanuatu, Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Canada and California, is intending selling shares and leases to investors to almost all of the land between the Erakor Lagoon and Teouma River. Two thousand hectares are involved. Their brochure shows plans for lagoon and island resorts and golf courses, and investors can even purchase a casino licence for two million dollars.
“Crystal Shores” is the name of the undertaking. No Environment Impact Assessment has been sought nor application made to the new Land Planning and Management Committee. Indeed, out of 6 people from Erakor and Eratap addressed Monday, not one was aware of what South Pacific Ltd intends to do with their land. All could identify their own land within the plans for the project but none had been approached to sell it, despite Crystal Shores seeking investors to purchase their subsistence gardens. Some felt their land was being stolen.
The Crystal Shores Land Acquisition Plan shows certain large areas marked as “untitled parcels”, rather suggesting Winslett and Dihm (both resident) feel they could easily obtain these areas. They must surely be aware of the earlier attempts to build a much smaller hotel complex at Etmat Bay which had a permanent road built to it from the main road to Erakor, later closed because of the division the project caused in the community. Erakor is marked as Stage One. Eratap is called Stage Two and a somewhat demeaning “Indigenous Reserve” has been set aside for the Eratap people even though they own all of Stage Two themselves, whether or not there are leases over certain parts of their land. Indeed, Eratap villagers have been in court during the week over a major land matter.
Potential Asian, American and Australian interested investors, possibly with CIIP status, receive brochures showing golf clubs and beach resorts. The printed material allegedly demonstrates the promoters’ expertise in creating such places, starting with Breakas, Pango. The Master Plan has provision for beach, lagoon and island resorts, townhouses, bungalows, hilltop, country and oceanfront lots, and forest estates.
It is not known whether this “project” is intended to join another, rumoured to be in the planning stage, located just the other side of the Teouma River. This would be in close proximity to the “greenfield” airport the government wants to build, allegedly at Rentabau.
None of these projects have been the subject of awareness discussions involving important environmental and sea level discussions and the populations whose lands and birthright would become the principal asset in the investment. Anyone thinking of investing should note that they can purchase copies of the most recent lands legislation from the Lands Department for VT 900. Not quite as lavish a document as the Crystal Shores brochure for investors it is, never-the-less, essential reading for everyone intending to lease anywhere in Vanuatu – an essential component in due diligence.