Rain prevents PM’s planned visit to evacuees on Maewo

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai and his delegation took the opportunity at Santo to meet and speak with people at evacuation centres. Here he is at Rohani School evacuation centre. Photo: Hilaire Bule.

By Jonas Cullwick

About 300 of the 500 Ambae evacuees on Maewo were at Gaiogwo village Thursday morning to see the Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai, and his delegation.

But the plane carrying him and his delegation turned back after it could not land due to rain and heavy cloud cover, it was reported from Maewo.

Gregory Taranban, the Vice Chair of the Maewo Response Management Team (MRMT) says every preparation was in place with nearly 300 of the evacuees from Naumu’umu in the north to Nasawa in the south present and the program for a welcome, speeches and gifts for the PM and his delegation and food for everyone to share together for the PM’s arrival.

He confirmed it was raining quiet heavily in the morning and they heard the sound of the plane flying to Malolo airfield at Naone village but they didn’t hear it turning back for Santo, until they received a call from Santo that the visit had been cancelled.

“No one was disappointed, we all including the evacuees who were looking forward seeing the Prime Minister and his delegation and hearing from them, accepted that it was the work of nature,” he added.

Taranban said after hearing that the visit would not happen, everyone sat around chatting and enjoying each other’s company before sharing in a meal prepared by the villagers of Gaiogwo for everyone from the north to the south. And in the afternoon they took some kava together before the trucks transported the evacuees back to their host villages.

Coordinator of MRMT Ezekiel Boelum added that he received a call from the Minister for Climate Change and MP for Pentecost Ham Lini, at Santo that there are plans to still do the visit at a date soon.

Government Public Relations Office (PRO) Hilaire Bule on his Facebook page posted that the Prime Minister and his delegation took the opportunity at Santo to visit the people at other evacuation centers he did not have the chance to see during his visit last week. And he explained to them the decision behind extending the state of emergency on Ambae.

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

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