Shipload of potentially contaminated Chinese gravel banned from entering Vanuatu

File image of asphalt being laid over aggregate. Photo: US Govt

File image of asphalt being laid over aggregate to build a runway. Photo: US Govt

A ship carrying aggregate gravel for the runway extensions at Bauerfield has been blocked from unloading because of the biologically unsafe status of gravel from its country of origin, China. The company responsible for the shipment, the giant China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC), was advised of the countries from which such material could be easily obtained when their successful bid was announced—Fiji, New Caledonia, Australia and New Zealand. China is blacklisted for the supply of gravel because it has foot and mouth disease. If foot and mouth disease arrived here, it would quickly destroy Vanuatu’s valuable beef export industry. The pork industry would also be affected. The Director of Biosecurity, Timothy Tumukon, has advised the aggregate material cannot be unloaded here. The Council of Ministers agrees. The ship is moored in Mele Bay. It will unload equipment needed on the runway project starting Thursday. However, the aggregate must remain on board. (Daily Post)

Australia’s newly appointed Ambassador for the Environment, Patrick Suckling, is presently in Port Vila on a familiarisation visit. He is responsible for Australia’s diplomacy around Read the rest of this entry »

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Vanuatu signs up to World Intellectual Property Organisation treaty

Vanuatu has now signed the World Intellectual Property Organisation treaty (WIPO) under which member states (most of the world) agree to pay each other’s publication, broadcast and production fees and performance rights. They must offer the same terms and conditions as they receive. Daily Post reports the Vanuatu Registrar of Intellectual Property, Merilyn Leona Temakon, attending the conference on protection of audiovisual performance in Beijing, 20–26 June, and presenting Vanuatu’s acceptance. This signing means Vanuatu can no longer legally sell pirate IT material, nor rent pirate videos and broadcasting stations will have to pay huge (for us) royalties on all music of overseas artists, amongst many other things. The article does not tell us this. It does, however, say that the same protection is afforded ni-Vanuatu performers. Our escape clause is the fact that the WTO Bill had expired by the time it was signed last month.

Port Vila’s new mayor, in his first major speech, promises that he will make a full and audited financial report of the allegedly bankrupt council of the capital. Mayor Reuben Olul says it will cover “all past years until the present.” The highly criticised and long time suspended council will also advertise all its positions from town clerk downwards and make a considerable effort to ensure it delivers the services townspeople want.

The Tourism Department is intending to improve Port Vila’s portside precincts (Star and Main Wharves and the Seafront) and is seeking options for the development of the areas, because of the huge contribution tourism makes to the economy. New Zealand will assist their endeavours. There is certainly room for development near the main wharf. However, most readers of this blog will be extremely opposed to the present (because of its land sales record) – or any other successor government – selling off any more public land. Post and Radio Vanuatu have both carried news of the moves to improve the areas.

The prime minister’s party, People’s Progressive Party, will field 27 candidates in the country’s upcoming October elections. Party secretary general Willie Lop confirmed with Radio Vanuatu News that the Congress chose the candidates at the Mele Congress last week. The present party executive will, however, stay for a further year because of shortness of time before the election.

At the PPP Congress, Daily Post reports, outgoing PM Sato Kilman gave his main priorities. They will be the public service, getting rid of the ‘politics as usual’ attitude of political leaders and growing the economy.