A community leader from a rarely mentioned enclave on South Ambae called Lolovotali, Manley Tari, has appealed to the Government to work with Penama Provincial Government and custom chiefs and church leaders of Ambae to resettle the displaced Ambaeans elsewhere.
He says they must reach a common understanding on a site or sites for resettlement(s) before making the evacuation.
Manley Tari says important lessons have been learned following the last compulsory evacuations last December.
“No doubt the government now knows better how to play its cards to make sure that an evacuation plan is approved by all stakeholders before it is carried out in an orderly manner”, he says.
The last evacuation was necessary to save human lives on one hand, while it created other problems. These include:
• Animals running amok and destroying gardens
• Promotion of theft of small animals including chicken, illegal entry of unoccupied homes, theft of crops including kava.
“No one can stop a volcanic eruption from taking place but the Central Government and all other stakeholders must mobilise urgently to resolve the issue of evacuation,” he adds.
“Pentecost and Maewo are not safe from volcanic ash fall. Volcanic eruption and a planned third evacuation will continue to promote a change in human behaviour in line with the changes that will come with the impact of new settlements and so forth. I hope the authorities will cater for these changes too.
“Those who complain in good times will complain even more in bad times, while people will want to evacuate and some will want to stay on the island”.
He is concerned that the situation may not be handled properly by people who take part first for personal gain while others focus on national interest.
He says the world reacted quickly to the first eruption last year and sent emergency aid for the 11,500 victims that were sent to Pentecost, Maewo, Santo and even Efate. “But the victims seemed not to have received it. Where is the assistance that was sent?”, he asks.
He answers his on question by saying, “The impact of the natural disaster was perhaps not handled with sincerity and honesty.
“The people of Ambae who were the victims were confused how the Government and Provincial Government handled the situation at the time”.
He appeals to the authorities to make sure the same alleged weaknesses are not repeated.