Left to right: John Tonner with Paramedics Steve and Judy (fourth), Brenda Andre (third) and ADG George Borugu

“The Tourism Industry needs local partners like Promedical to help the Port Vila Cruise Tourism Committee (PVCTC)improve passenger safety and security, they have helped us so many times with cruise passengers and even today (last week) Promedical will be assisting with two separate cases involving the Cruise Ship. We are very blessed to have such wonderful and well qualified support by Promedical”.

Acting Director General of the Ministry of Trade & Tourism, George Borugu made the statement to welcome Promedical last week to work on the Wharf on Cruise Ship days.

The initiative spearheaded by the PVCTC Chairman John Tonner, was to include Promedical in the Main Wharf Market Stalls, this allows passengers to donate directly to their running costs and talk to some of the Paramedics and crew.

When asked why the PVCTC support this initiative John Tonner also pointed out the dual benefit to market vendors, “I am very happy to confirm that as part of the initiative Promedical have agreed to provide work cover membership to the 300 NI-Vanuatu Market Stall Vendors who are registered with the PVCTC and will also be providing First Aid Training to elected Stall Vendors in the coming days. It’s a huge win win for all parties and is much needed access to further financial support for Promedical.

“The Luganville Cruise Committee also supports Promedical in Santo and allow the same sort of donation stall up there, it’s vital we assist these guys to keep running and with the increase in motor vehicle accidents over the past few months, they have been busy indeed”.

The taxi and bus situation at the front gate of the main remains a strain on passenger experience, this paper has run numerous articles on the issue and while it does seem to have improved with drivers now in a uniform and parking a little better, the road condition right outside the Main Wharf gate is appalling and I asked Tonner if there had been any injuries, “Unfortunately we have had several injuries right outside the gate and some more serious than others, for example we had a lady trip in a pot hole and broke her foot, we have another fall into the water with a dislocated shoulder and as you can see the flow of cruise passengers to the taxi or bus in through open traffic and in these situations people are going to get hurt.

“The PVCTC recently sent a letter to the Minister of Infrastructure regarding the road condition above the Wharf and we are awaiting his reply. The road was never a problem but since that Quarry started up there the road has been completely destroyed, in fact I would rate a 150m section as probably one of the worst I have seen in port Vila and that is certainly saying something as I’m sure we all know. The Community at Dream Cove and Ifira Point have joined the PVCTC to pay for the road to be re graded but that is always a temporary solution, what we need is for the road to be tar sealed with some drainage curbs and gutters. All the Cruise Ship Tours have to travel across this section of road above the wharf and it’s just embarrassing to travel across such road conditions as an introduction to our Nation’s Capital”.

Recently the Daily Post ran an advertisement for the Ministry of Infrastructure calling for expression of interest in the management of the Main Wharf, with the completion of Lapetasi Wharf the Main Wharf can now fully transition into a Cruise Ship Terminal as was directed by the Council of Minister’s Decision in 2006, but there are concerns expressed by many at the Wharf that the Government will not respect the progress over the past two to three years that has been achieved. Mama Market Vendors have signed a petition letter to the Government, this has been joined by taxi and bus operators all calling for continued management being allocated to John Tonner.

I managed to speak with several Vendors who requested not to be named who were very clear in the way they see forward, “Mr. Tonner is the only one who has helped us for the past three years, you see all these stalls well he paid for them to bring us in from the roadside, he is the one who has worked with us to get organised and now we have five associations and the Presidents of those associations have a committee and that committee is also on the big Port Vila Cruise Committee so now we have a voice”, another vendor said.

“He also provides us with shipping containers so we can store our items between the cruise ship calls. It’s very hard work for us and most of us are widows or single mothers and this is our only chance to put bread on the table, when we were outside in the dust sometimes we made no sales at all but now that Mr. Tonner has moved us inside the wharf we can sell 20,000vt or 30,000vt per ship and sometimes it can be a lot more”.

As i moved through the Market Stalls there was no shortage of vendors willing to comment, “We are concerned the Government will give the Wharf Management to someone who does not know about Cruise Ships or does not run this Wharf fairly and evenly as Mr. Tonner has done. I tell you there are over 300 Mama’s in here that’s not an easy group to handle and we can all talk to Mr. Tonner and trust him to help us, he has done a great job here at the wharf and I pray for him every day”.

Promedical National Operations Manager, Ms Peta Owen, has been very pleased with the recent opportunity to be on Main Wharf, “This is a great outcome and I want to thank the work by the Port Vila Cruise Committee, Harbour Master John Nasak, John Tonner, Brenda Andre and the all Mama’s for allowing us to be here. This avenue for us to collect donations will be vital to assist our running costs, I know it hasn’t been easy to achieve and we didn’t get it right on the first go but happy days, it’s just a great opportunity for Promedical”.

Act DG Borugu said, “The Deputy Prime Minister is scheduling a meeting with the Minister for Infrastructure next week (this week) to discuss the Management and Tender Process and had hoped the Government would achieve an outcome as soon as possible”.

Luganville now has a Cruise Tourism Terminal and by the sounds of it Port Vila as the main gateway for Cruise Ships to Vanuatu should follow suit in the coming weeks, this paper will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates on the EOI and Tender process. The Main Wharf is the front door to our Cruise Tourism and for the sake of the Nation’s Cruise Industry and ability to put bread on many tables, it would appear expertise is required to ensure the continued improvement trend of the past two years.

Tourism remains one of the main active engines in Vanuatu’s Tourism Industry.

The Ministry of Trade & Tourism continues to seek ways of broadening the benefit and another example is the recent initiative from the Port Vila Cruise Tourism Committee.

Acting DG Borugu was on hand with PVCTC Chairman John Tonner and Vice Chair Brenda Andre to congratulate the united efforts to support Promedical Ambulance.

ADG Borugu said, “This is an excellent initiative from the Cruise Committee and just like Tourism is everybody’s business so is health and safety. Promedical provide millions of Vatu in support and emergency treatment to our community. In fact I believe that totalled over 7,000,000vt last year alone and they do this as a nonprofit organisation with Australian and New Zealand qualified Paramedics. Promedical have achieved many firsts including this amazing lady Judy, who is the first Ni-Vanuatu qualified Paramedic, this all costs money and it has to come from somewhere”.

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