Relocation starting June 1: CoM

The islands of Penama Province - Pentecost, Ambae, Maewo

The Council of Ministers (CoM) has decided that Maewo will be the second home for the people of Ambae, by way of Tenancy Agreement.

The CoM meeting yesterday varied its original decision 57 of 2018 consisting of nine action points.

The second point of the decision is that relocation of people out of Ambae to Maewo will start on June 1 and will end by 30 July 2018.

There will be no compulsory evacuation out of Ambae but Government will facilitate movement of people of Ambae who are willing to relocate within the two months period.

The CoM decided too that there will be no restriction on people of Ambae who are making their own arrangements to live elsewhere other than Maewo but it will be at their own costs.

“The Government will provide support to Ambaeans moving to other islands to settle by providing subsidy to logistical arrangements and costs of settlement.

“Food support will be provided to the displaced population of Ambae on Maewo for a maximum of six months before withdrawing its support in terms of food support as food crops which have been planted on day one of evacuation are now ready for harvest.”

COM decided too that Penama Provincial Headquarter is to be relocated to either Pentecost or Maewo.

It will be the task of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to coordinate Resolution 7, which is the relocation of Penama Provincial Headquarter in consultation with the Penama Provincial Government Council and respective leaders of Penama

And finally, construction of new Government facilities and expansion of Government services on Maewo including Schools and Health Centres will be done to accommodate the displaced population from Ambae.

On Maewo, Chief Jonah Toaganase, says 19 to 23 nakamals/villages – 13 in the North and 10 in the South areas, are ready to take over 3,000 people from Ambae on temporary relocation before transfer to permanent locations. He says the people will be temporarily hosted by the people in the villages while government prepares the four sites identified for permanent locations.

“Immediately after the people from Ambae settle into their host villages, communities of the villages will help them plant gardens of crops for them to live on while awaiting preparation of the permanent settlement sites.

“Additionally, we are suggesting the people of Maewo form organizations and get government purchase local food from villagers to supplement rice and other canned food that will be supplied by government,” Chief Toaganase said.

On Maewo still, three government surveyors have completed survey work on the first of the four sites for permanent settlement of Ambae families at Sanasom, on the vicinity of Nasawa village in Central Maewo.

Chief Toaganase who is one of the main people behind the planned lease of the land to government for relocation of the Ambae families, says the land he is offering to government is about 300 hectares – stretching 1.5 from Sanasom to the river a Landa along the coast south of Nasawa and 3 to 4 km inland. The exact area of the land will be made known in the surveyors’ report.

In addition to information received by Daily Post, the forth piece of land offered by the chiefs of Maewo, at Loloruhu, on the northernmost tip of Maewo had been surveyed years ago and the title believed returned to custom owners.

It is also understood from Chief Toaganse, that the surveyors were also due to survey land at Narovorovo Village just north of Nasawa, where land has been offered by custom owners as the possible site for relocation of the Penama Provincial Headquarter.

The total land area from the four sites offered for permanent settlement of the people of Ambae is believed to be over 1,000 hectares.

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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