Cyclone Zena causes minor damage; PM wants stronger relations with New Caledonia

A house on Pentecost destroyed by Cyclone Zena last night. Photo: Kelly Bonga via Yumi Toktok Stret

A house on Pentecost destroyed by Cyclone Zena last night. Photo: Kelly Bonga (via YTS)

As predicted yesterdaythe tropical low in the north of the country became a named cyclone, Zena, overnight near Ambae. It ‘wobbled’ further south than anticipated by Vanuatu Meteorological Services, passing directly over northern Santo and south Pentecost as a category 1 cyclone. Damage to weak structures, flooding and downed trees have been reported in Santo, Ambae, Maewo and Pentecost. Seas remain rough. Cyclone Zena will move out of Vanuatu’s zone of meteorological responsibility this evening and into Fiji’s.

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai wants to strengthen the relationship between Vanuatu and New Caledonia. “We are all one family of francophones in the Pacific,” he told the visiting New Caledonian President Philippe Germain. The cordial relations thus re-established this last weekend on the President’s visit have seen Noumea promise to give three month visa exemptions for Ni-Vanuatu going to New Caledonia. This will be greatly appreciated. What the Vanuatu PM noted as being the natural and geographical proximity between the two countries has failed to deliver regular air services as proposed long ago when the Tanna airfield was upgraded to enable flights between Magenta (Noumea) and the principal Vanuatu southern island, especially for Noumea residents looking for an interesting – but different – place to which to go for brief holidays. A regular exchange of flights has failed to eventuate although charters do occur between the two countries. The visiting President of NC departed Sunday.

Daily Post today carries an account of a visit of Barak Sope to Moana Carcasses and Serge Vohor in detention. Sope mentioned his having been paroled but the Director of Correctional Services pointed out to the newspaper that there is no parallel between the Sope case and that of the 14 presently serving their sentences for the criminal offence of bribery.

Daily Post also has news of the dissolution appeal case brought by Minister Ham Lini as a “dead issue”. Lini and other MPs had sought a decision that the Head of State’s dissolution of Parliament was an action against the constitutional rights of MP Lini and other Members of Parliament. Judge Aru dismissed the constitutional application in December last year. The appellants’ heard in court yesterday that they would need good reason to proceed with the case since there has subsequently been the election of the new Parliament.

On a basis of “Vanuatu must be seen to be friendly to investors”, the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority – VIPA – has assisted the wharf traffic management plan with the sum of Vt 600,000.