Salwai Govt’s consultative approach to community development pays off with Ambrym airport decision

Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Charlot Salwai. Photo: ITU

Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Charlot Salwai. Photo: ITU

Good news for the Salwai Government. In an interview with Minister of MIPU, Jotham Napat, listeners heard how the Salwai Govt’s approach for communities to achieve what they need — MPs, chiefs and communities working together — is working for Olal, North Ambrym. Olal airport has received the blessing of all, land disputes put aside and landowners agreeing to accept less than what was previously promised, including compensation. Minister Napat met with communities and chiefs of North Ambrym last week. The Olal airport decision is possibly the longest running airport plan which has been placed on hold. The distance North Ambrym people must travel to get to the airport at Ulei in teh south-east is great. The Olal decision will assist other rural airport developments, for example Norsup. Everyone was agreed that traditional governance should be the main consideration to ensure the plans get taken up by Government. Some Vt 40-50 million will need to be found to build the Olal airport and work is unlikely to begin immediately, but the people have together requested Government to proceed with the airport. (Radio Vanuatu)

Land disputes are in the news again. The Daily Post has retracted earlier reporting on Lenur Island, South Malekula. The Jacklin Titek family claims the government did not “steal” Lenur Island and all the matters leading to the ownership of the island by the former MP’s family were done “according to the law.” A court case concerning ownership of the island continues. It may well happen that the item below in today’s Vanuatu Digest will be of relevance to this story in terms of evidence. (Daily Post)

The Right to Information (RTI) Act has now become law – the Bill before Parliament last year, unanimously adopted by MPs, is now officially gazetted. Daily Post tells us that there are fees payable, but these seem logical and reasonable. RTI officers must decide concerning requests for information within 30 days. Information is not exempted from access simply by being classified confidential whether by a government officer or private or public entity.

In her Waitangi Day address at the New Zealand High Commission last week, NZ High Commissioner Roberts gave the impressive figure of 4,000 Ni-Vanuatu workers employed in New Zealand under the Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) scheme last year. Vanuatu has contributed 4,000 labourers to the NZ workforce out of a total of 10,500 RSE workers, an impressive 38% for our small nation.