Cyclone Donna reaches Cat 4 strength offshore: alerts remain in place

TC Donna is now a Category 4 cyclone, with winds at the centre of 165km/h and gusts up to 235km/h. It stretches the full length of the country. Damage to buildings and crops have been reported in the Torres and Banks islands. All domestic flights in the country are cancelled.

Cyclone Donna continues to wobble out at sea, but nevertheless remains extremely dangerous. The track forecast by Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazards Dept shows it weakening and heading away towards New Caledonia. However, the US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center warns that Cyclone Donna’s full intensity may not be felt for another 48 hours, and its path will remain erratic.

Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Nauru Palau and the Marshall Islands delivered a hard-hitting joint statement on the plight of West Papua to the 79-member Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States meeting at ministerial level this week in Brussels. Authored by MP Johnny Koanapo, Parliamentary Secretary for the Prime Minister’s Office, the packed council room was trans-fixed as he described Indonesia’s violations and the West Papuan slow-motion genocide. (Daily Post).

No more veal escalope? Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Seremaiah has issued a ban on the killing of heifers to lift Vanuatu’s number of cattle to 500,000 by 2025. Large plantation and cattle breeding businesses have urged the Minister to change his mind, but he remains firm. He says “everyone admits the cattle stock is in a critical stage. As such I have no other alternative, other than to order this ban.” (RNZI/Daily Post)

An explanation is needed from the Board of VBTC as to how the redundancy exercise has been structured. And why. Well, we do know VBTC is in financial difficulties. Today’s Daily Post says sixteen staff who are in the “second phase of the redundancy payout” apologised to Board members yesterday. Six other staff members went through the same process a week ago. The sixteen have apologised for the notice of strike action.

Some 50 unhappy non-academic employees of USP boycotted work Friday morning. The Vice Chancellor is allegedly with-holding severance pay. Emalus Campus Manager Ruben Bakeo will raise the issue with the VC this coming week in Suva. Photos with posters saying such as “God hates injustice!! Pay severance now” will probably record the boycott dramatically enough to make the point that Vanuatu’s law varies from that of Fiji. (Daily Post)

Simon Fletcher, GM of Interchange, the company managing Vanuatu’s submarine internet cable, says a second internet cable is needed without delay. The first cable continues to work well, but the business community has put so much faith in the means of communication that damage to that cable “might bring the country to its knees,” he says. The telecoms companies and Regulator would appear to agree. (Vanuatu Independent)

New Commissioner of Police Albert Nalpini was appointed Thursday afternoon by President Lonsdale. He originally applied when he was the force’s Legal Officer. The challenging of his appointment in court came about because of the Police Service Commission having failed to comply with correct procedures.