Vanuatu daily news digest | 18 August 2014

In a well-prepared action the Natuman Govrnment has taken steps to protect Port Vila’s water supply. There are three zones involving greater security than elsewhere surrounding the Freswota springs. The Matnakara (Tagabe) Water Catchment Management Plan emerged after extensive studies begun as long ago as the ‘Eighties and a committee began in 2003 with representatives from UNELCO, NGOs and government departments. Three protection zones were identified. The outer zone allows non-intensive agriculture, sealed roads and low density settlement. The next closer to the water source only allows non-intensive agriculture and unsealed roads. There are major tabus here: no intensive farming, no herbicides or insecticides, no sewerage treatment, hospitals, no small industries or discharge of oils or vehicle dump sites. All kinds of settlement are prohibited along with cemetries, congregations of stock and the use of organic fertilizer. Closest to the source, Zone 1, the only activities permitted are associated with the Port Vila supply of water. Since 2010 recurrent funding of protection work had ceased. Indeed, due to lack of Government commitment a significant number of leases were issued within the Protection Zone. Many readers will recall the concern at the time a businessman was granted a lease to the actual water source supply point. Now, however, the Minister has taken the necessary steps to to re-activate the Matnakara Watershed Management Committee and re-established the budget. The Committee meets regularly and carries out awareness in the zones. Residents and squatters in zone 2 are being advised of the need to move out. A proper survey of zones 1 and 2 has been completed. Valuations of titles needing to be acquired is completed. In early 2014 acquisition notices for all 89 leases in Freshwind Limited, plus another 2 leases over State Land at the centre of Fresh Wind were issued. Government is now in the process of purchasing these leases. Then Zone 1 will be fenced off.

The community living within the water protection area has chosen its committee to work with the Tagabe Watershed Committee to implement the water protection measures. And households in Zone 2 clearly understand they will have to move out. They know they will be given access to purchase lease titles in other areas of Fres Wind – Ohlen with government assistance. Everyone concerned, from the Minister to the Committee Membership is certain that such collaborative working between government and residents is absolutely essential. It is only by such a cooperative endeavour that Vila will regain its cleanest and purest water.

Natapei may be elected as Vanua’aku Pati Treasurer the weekend Daily Post informs us. He was certainly a much valued and trusted senior party official around Independence. The 38th VP Congress is to be held between 24 and 27 August at the Lycée in Port Vila and the Prime Minister is generally expected to become the party president.

Prime Minister Natuman is now in China and likely to issue a revised statement concerning Vanuatu’s interest in the Capital Investment Immigration Plan (CIIP). The plan has proved something less than the money spinner originally touted and seems to make much more money for the Hong Kong backing company than the Vanuatu Government for which the plan was meant to save many and various budget heads. PM Natuman has visited an urban planning museum in Nanjing in his days away.

Last week there was news of a savage attack on a man in a land dispute at Forari, the victim suffering dreadful injuries from the attacker’s chainsaw. It’s a long time since we have read such reports of this kind of extreme brutality.

The good news of last week was the Microfinance Trade Fair for 2014. It was a great success.