Drug bust on Tanna; Earthquake, tsunami and potential cyclone (!) danger passes; Visa-free visits to NC; VBTC money goes walkabout

Tafea Police Patrol in the marijuana plantation in Middle Bush, Tanna. Photo: Vanuatu Police Force

One kind of Cyclone Pam recovery: Tafea Police Patrol in the cannabis plantation in Middle Bush, Tanna. More on this story below. Photo: Vanuatu Police Force

Two tropical lows affecting Vanuatu weather presently. The tropical low to the northwest of the country extends a trough to the southeast over our central islands to another tropical low located near Fiji. A severe weather warning remains current along with a marine wind warning, but Vanuatu Meteorological Services say there is little chance of the lows becoming cyclones over Vanuatu.

A 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the Port Olry area was responsible for tsunami alerts worldwide late yesterday. The ‘quake was 35km deep and no tsunami was reported.

Police have located a cannabis plantation of over 600 plants found growing in Middle Bush, Tanna. Working on information obtained from different parts of the community Police visited a village in Middle Bush, Tanna and arrested a 60-year old suspect. The plants were between 1.5–2.4m tall and covered an area about the size of a football field. This seizure is one of the biggest made by officers from the TAFEA Police Patrol. Enquiries are continuing into identifying those assisting the suspect in cultivation and distribution.

Particularly interesting news today comes from Les Nouvelles calédoniennes which has covered PM Charlot Salwai entering into useful and technical discussions on cooperation with New Caledonia’s President, Philippe Germain, on visit here over the weekend. Especially pleasing to many will be the opportunity for Ni-Vanuatu to visit le Caillou visa free. Expect more on the Germain visit in the near future.

The main news today is the Prime Minister’s concern that the national public service  radio does not reach all the nation, shortwave broadcasting being hugely expensive. The PM, whose portfolio includes media and the services of Radio Vanuatu, was speaking to staff on a visit to Brodkas Haos last week. The present view of the Government is that it ought to be possible to deliver the FM100 service of VBTC’s Radio Vanuatu throughout the country by year end, thereby meaning a significant delay (possibly a year) in extending television services. PM Salwai spoke of the huge cost of running the national broadcaster and giving an annual grant to Radio Vanuatu when the Corporation was supposed to generate revenue sufficient to support itself. “Radio must not be held back by TV”, said the PM. “It does indeed form a public service.” Whilst the Telecoms Regulator is expecting to have all the country served with mobile telephony by the end of the year,  problems still remain– ensuring all the telecoms services used for mobile telephone connections remain working during tropical cyclones. They must be maintained and fuelled up. It will be recalled that Lelepa had difficulties receiving warnings from FM100 during cyclone Pam. It is particularly at warnings time that Radio Vanuatu performs its greatest public service. It did so without fail for the first thirty years of its existence. The PM should not have to be looking for new ways to restore national radio broadcasts.

Vanuatu Daily Digest would like to hear from former Radio Vanuatu broadcasting engineers on this topic, professionals whose views are possibly more relevant than those of telecoms engineers, and whose service background avoided deals and ensured extensive knowledge of the requirements. Email us at dailydigester@gmail.com please.

The office of the National Terrestrial TV Project has launched a formal complaint with Police over alleged mis-appropriation of Vt 5 million. This was the amount of a bond which should have gone to VIPA when the Chinese monitoring company, TEKE, began arrangements with VBTC. VBTC consultant Ephraim Songi allegedly hired a consultant at the end of last year to work on the company registration process for the joint venture company. The accusation is that the money was used for personal purposes, Radio Vanuatu News has just reported.

A task force to begin a review of the country’s taxation regime was due to start work this morning.


One Comment on “Drug bust on Tanna; Earthquake, tsunami and potential cyclone (!) danger passes; Visa-free visits to NC; VBTC money goes walkabout”

  1. Erick Sherack says:

    Thank you for sending news update