There is a serious need to reform the Physical Planning Act to ensure all activities and development planned in town are regulated properly, said the Minister of Internal Affairs, Alfred Maoh.
“There are loop-holes in the legislation creating social problems like increased crime rates.
“In the Act, for example, retailing liquor should be stopped in residential areas.
“There has to be a full reform to address development in relation to housing and the welfare of dwellers.
“Land owners, investors and developers must abide to restrictions of the sub-division policy under the Ministry of Lands.
“They should seek advice from the Physical Planning Unit if they want to change the land use type as from agriculture to rental property,” he said.
Regarding housing, Minister Maoh said he will be tabling the building code to specify the standards of constructing buildings in Parliament soon and drainage standard to address poor drainage like at Manples and Freswota suffering from the flow of water from Beverly Hills during heavy rain.
Planning on squatter settlements, a problem of a lack of physical planning must also be improved, the minister added.
“Squatting in Vanuatu is a result of political will.
“When people move onto a piece of land on the request of politicians on their political interest.
“There are too many bureaucrats who do not understand the importance of planning in development.
“It’s also high time people start showing courtesy to approach authorities for advice,” said the minister.
Another challenge Vanuatu is facing in planning is lack of zoning maps for land use in urban areas, the minister stressed.
“That is why we have a commercial and even (industrial) activities operating alongside residential homes, schools, churches and health centres.
“Vanuatu’s urban centres are growing at a fast rate.
“The urban population has increased at an average of 3.5% a year since 1999, about 1,400 people a year.
“We are growing rapidly and we urgently need some controls on development to avoid problems in urban and Peri-urban areas,” he urged.
Minister Maoh was speaking after addressing a Physical Planning Seminar between Vanuatu and Solomon Islands yesterday in Port Vila.
The purpose of the seminar is for Solomon Islands to share its experience in physical planing so Vanuatu will learn from it and strengthen its own.