Luganville Town and Zhuahia Wanshan Marine Development Experimental Zone have signed a sister city agreement, with the belief it will bring assistance to develop the northern town.
This was highlighted by Luganville Mayor Onen Gaviga, as he addressed his Chinese counterpart, Mr. Zhang Bo, Deputy Secretary of the CPC Committee of Zhuhai Wanshan Marine Development Experimental Zone, and the visiting delegation to Luganville Santo.
“On the outset let me first of all, express Luganville’s warmest tropical greetings to you all,” he said.
“Luganville Municipal Council is indeed grateful to your visit and feels honour to welcome you Deputy Secretary of CPC Committee of Zhuhai and the members of the delegation to Luganville Town.”
The mayor proceeded to introduce guests who were present with him at the time, including Councillors, SG SANMA Province, Representative of the Department of Local Authorities, President of TORBA Province, Representative of Ni-Vanuatu Business and the President of the Luganville Chinese Association.
He then present detailed information about Luganville Town as Vanuatu’s second largest town.
“Luganville town has a total population of over 16,000 whom mostly originated from other parts of Vanuatu from North – South, Luganville Town is also known as Canal by its residents,” he said.
“Luganville Town connects three provinces in the northern part of Vanuatu namely TORBA, PENAMA and MALAMPA. The main expo hub is particularly copra, beef, cocoa, sandalwood, kava, fisheries and logging.
“Luganville Town is also host to an International Airport (Pekoa) and International Port of Entry (NISCOL). It also hosts Government offices across the board, including private stake holders and enterprises and private business communities which compromised mostly Chinese businesses.
“The realization of your visit today is indeed an act of generosity for giving us the opportunity to meet in person and establish our working maneuverer to promote and strengthen the framework on development cooperation and see what matters most hence promoting cooperation, friendship, exchanges and sharing views on the development aspiration of our two cities.”
Mayor Gaviga conveyed his appreciation for the reception Prime Minister Charlot Salwai received when he visited Zhuhai Wanshan Marine Development Experimental Zone early last year.
“It was that visit that fostered this cordial cooperation and working relations which sees today we are here to further the discussion and to manifest the framework to ensure we achieve our objectives for the benefit of both our people and cities,” he said.
“During that visit, the Prime Minister himself expressed his anticipation for the establishment of our two countries to engage in the sister city cooperation and so I am here to convey our gratitude especially to the Department of CPC Committee of Zhuhai Municipal Authority and Ministry of Foreign for giving the blessing and endorsing this initiative on the engagement of Zhuhai Wanshan Marine Development Zone and Luganville Sister City Cooperation.”
The Mayor said in many ways, Luganville is similar to Zhuhai Wanshan Marine Development Zone by its surrounding natural resources and the similarities of coastal areas.
“Coming from an island developing state Vanuatu, where we are vulnerable to climate change, sea level rise and natural disaster, we have common similarities to keep our island nations environmental friendliness in our development aspirations,” he said.
“Having your visit to us here, I believe there’s something more that we can share on and exchange the experiences as we together build our nations to prosper.”
Lord Mayor Gaviga then drew consideration to the fact that since the inception of the establishment of the council in 1975, the council is running at an operation of cost of Vt4 million which is provided by the national government as grant and while other complementary budget was raised through revenue collection.
Given that the population is also growing, with such sister city initiatives like this, the mayor wants to see the two cities cooperating on more related development assistance, in particular:
•Infrastructure Road Machinery (this will enable the council to maintain its infrastructure)
•Upgrade of dispensaries in Luganville (health is a priority for my council as well)
•Youth empowerment (capacity building and people to people exchange)
•Business connectivity (attracting more investors and trade)
•Luganville beautification project
•Recycling plant (for the council to run and manage its own waste control and also by creating its own revenue)
“Through this courtesy meeting, which will also realize the signing ceremony of the MOU, I believe it is timely and phenomenon as our two countries policy direction is modelling to another level to Comprehensive Strategic Development Partnership and something worth furthering cooperation on,” Mayor Gaviga added.
“I must say that such achievements are achievable only when there is a stable policy direction from the government and I must commend the President of Vanuatu and the Prime Minister on their leadership, ensuring everyone has a decent life and lives in harmony.
“Last but not the least I wish to draw to you the assurance of the Vanuatu government stands on the One China Policy and inform on the wonderful cooperation and relationship between Luganville residents and Luganville Chinese business houses. We do appreciate their engagement in our society.
“We look forward to further engagement and cooperation in sectors concerns in the near future.”