The President of PENAMA Provincial Government Council, Alban Garae, has dismissed rumors alleging he was apprehended by police.
In a telephone conversation with the Daily Post yesterday afternoon, president Garae labelled the rumors circulating in Maewo, Santo and Port Vila as unfounded and false.
“I have heard the rumors, the public must stop spreading this rumor. I was not arrested,” Garae said.
He added, “there have been misunderstanding and misinformation in relation to my trip to Maewo three weeks ago during rough weather."
In the meantime, the President of the Penama Provincial Government Council, confirmed that half of the Provincial Government Council Administrative staff is based at Narovrovo, on Maewo and the other half of the Administrative staff in based on Santo.
“The reason for having half of the staff on Maewo and half on Santo is because of the easy access to communications between the Provincial authority, the National Government, government agencies and donor partners that urgently and constantly in touch with the Provincial Head quarters in relation to the Ambae situation and the rest of the work and development in Penama,” said Garae.
He added: “Next week, i will be at Narovrovo on Maewo, where the half of the Penama Provincial Council is based to monitor and coordinate the evacuees who are settling on Maewo and likewise with those on Santo."
He explained to the Daily Post that people may think that it is easy and simply to administer the affairs of the Penama Province in the midst of the current situation but that this not so.
“Imagine moving out from all administrative established system amidst such a disaster in handling a major task of moving the entire population of Ambae to different locations, is not easy. There are different views and wishes to take into account as well as dealing different leaders at different level of the Ambae community. But the bottom line is to make sure the women, children, men, young and old are well taken care of at all costs. Heath, access to water, food, education and businesses, has to restart somehow, somewhere as best as possible and moving into the future,” said Garae.
“I wish to express, on behalf of the Panama Provincial Council my gratitude to the Vanuatu national government, the NDMO, the Vanuatu Red Cross Society, the Vanuatu Police Force and the VMF, the Health and Education and Agricultural authorities, the Churches and Chiefs, donor partners, and everyone in Vanuatu and abroad for all they have done to help Ambae families on Maewo and Santo,” said Garae.
He mentioned there are challenges in the rehabilitation of the people of Ambae both on Maewo and Ambae, especially in accommodation, water and food, education and daily life generally but he believes the government and its partners will continue to provide assistance to the people in the months ahead.
“Overall, the Penama administration I lead continues to oversee the whole affairs of the three islands of Ambae, Maewo and Pentecost, not just concentrating on Ambae volcanic victims," the president concluded.
"We will continue to do our best for the people of Ambae."