The Office of Maritime Regulator (OMR) says it has not received a formal written order to prevent the movement of vessels or unloading of materials from ports in north Efate affected by the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (CRB) since the declaration of the State of Emergency (SoE).
There was no order from the Department of Bio-Security (DoB) to advise OMR so that it can facilitate the necessary boarder control requirements, said OMR’s Senior Legal Officer, Lloyd Fikiasi.
“We have not issued any instructions to domestic vessels regarding the restricted zoning at north Efate because we have not received the order.
“We heard and read about the SoE only in the newspaper and social media.
“I think there is a shortfall of looking at the ocean side of the operation.
“The first time that we knew about our responsibility in the operation was today (Monday), after coming across an article in the newspaper about a vessel passing through the restricted area.
“We (OMR) have reached out to the DoB to rectify the miscommunications.
“The CRB threat is a national issue and we hope to receive the order quickly so that we can inform ship owners,” he said.
The Daily Post understands that OMR has been regarded as one of the main stakeholders in the effort to exterminate the CRB since the beginning of the emergency operation.
The Disaster Operations Manager at the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), Peter Korisa, said clear directions must be given to stakeholders and the people to comply with the SoE regulations.
“The operation is headed by the DoB and supported by NDMO.
“We have conducted awareness mainly on the land operation.
“Awareness on the ocean side of operation came late.
“The current operation dealing with a beetle infestation is the first of its kind in Vanuatu.
“Of course, there are limitations now but lessons will be learnt at the end of the operation,” he added.
The Incident Command Centre based at Mangaliliu announced that an occurrence on Sunday has prompted the authorities to step up strict measures.
“Strict measures will be imposed on vehicles that continue to transport materials such as fire woods to unaffected areas after working hours.
“Security will be tighten at the check points from now on.
“Vehicles and ships that refuse to comply with the rules will be dealt with under the NDMO Act (Cap 267).”
The NDMO Act (Cap 267) gives power to the director of NDMO and police to detain any vessel, vehicles and people not respecting the State of Emergency currently in place.