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Land consultant, Alick Kalmelu, of Ifira Tenuku says the land issue on Efate is a very sensitive matter and the chiefs of Efate should talk about the matter.

He said the chiefs of Efate through the council of chiefs such as the village council of chiefs, the area council of chiefs and the island council of chiefs of Efate should unite and talk about the issue of land particularly preservation of land for future generations.

Kalmelu was commenting on the views expressed by the newly-elected chairman of the Shefa Provincial Council, Alick Arram in which he highlighted common fears by many Efate islanders about the sale of land on Efate.

In the comment the new chairman emphasized the need for land to be preserved for future generation.

Kalmelu also emphasized that custom governance was also paramount for sustainable use of land and resolution of land issues whenever they may rise.

However, he added that chiefs needed to work together to establish custom governance systems to get chiefs to come together to talk about and resolve land issues.

“For example the land issues between individual land claimants and villages and then we go on to talk about the reservation of land for the people of Efate as a whole.

“Not only on Efate, we have to look at other islands such as Malekula, Santo, Tanna because I think that the population especially on Efate has grown so fast that there is no control over the population.

“I think the question is that land issues should go back to custom governance rather than the municipal or provincial governments.

“Here we are talking about custom land issues have to be addressed through custom governance rather than the Shefa Province or the central government,” Kalmelu added.

He said the current Minister of Land, Ralph Regenvanu has done a lot to amend the land tribunal act and introduced a new act, the Land Management Act to control the sale of land on Efate including other islands of Vanuatu.

“The key issue here is we have to make sure that custom governance within each village council, area council and island councils of chiefs have to be enforced because at the moment there seems to be a lack of willingness to introduce this custom governance to the public.

“For example, on Ifira we have Chief Mantoi Kalsakau and it is the duty of each small chief to help the paramount chief, because at the moment the custom governance doesn’t seem to work properly and that’s where we need to tighten up processes at the moment.”

Kalmelu is concerned that there are still a lot of loopholes in custom governance because that’s the main area where we can use to resolve land issues and land differences between the communities and even the identification of custom land owners.

“So we have to tighten up the custom governance system in village because there is no such thing in place,” he concluded his interview with the Vanuatu Nightly News reporter of 96 BuzzFM, Kizzy Kalsakau.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: Cell # 678 5460922

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