Sixty custom chiefs from North West and West Coast of Santo have joined forces to petition the Government to reopen Lajmoli Airfield on West Coast Santo to help well over 1,000 people in the isolated region.

Chief Mol Torvak Lima – Tirsupe from Wunon Village of North West Santo says the petition was handed to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Alfred Maoh to hand over to the Minister of MIPU, Jotham Napat. “I understand that the petition has been delivered to the Minister”, Chief Tirsupe says.

The high chief, who is also the President of the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs, says he welcomed the petition. “The petition was made during a Governance Workshop jointly facilitated by the Malvatumauri and Customary Land Management Office in Wunon Village this month”, he said.

“The latest petition was made on the heels of two similar pleas that I’d made to the Government to reopen Lajmoli Airfield after a young mother had lost her four-kilo newborn baby son due to lack of emergency transport to rush her to Luganville hospital”.

In his call Chief Tirsupe had suggested that the newborn baby would have been saved had the airfield been operational and an emergency flight been organised to rush the mother in labour to hospital. “We lose lives in natural disasters but this baby would have been saved had the airfield not been used”, he said.

The petition also included a request for the Government to consider linking the West Coast with the first road.

In ancient times the chief said his people walked for one week to reach Luganville. “Now after 37 years of independence, my Team and I travelled to Santo and slept in Luganville two weeks ago. We woke up and boarded a truck at 2 in the morning and drove to Tasiriki arriving there at 6.30 in the morning. We boarded a boat and arrived in my Wunon Village at 3.30 in the afternoon”, he said.

Asked if he has received any feedback from the Government on his pleas, he says not yet.

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