Palekula Offered For Fishing Business

President Kaletei (left) with two other members of VFA

The  Vanuatu National Fishermen's Association (VNFA) is offering Palekula Island to any business individual or company who wishes to set up a fishing business.

The invitation is also extended to businessmen in the region and worldwide.

VFA President, James Kaletei said that after many failed promises by the government in the past until today, they are now trading Palekula out for someone who might help them.

Reports have shown that the fishermen association in Vanuatu have been demanding goodwill payment based on a Commission of Enquiry that have been carried out into their outstanding.

Former VFNA President Remy Kunuan met then Prime Minister Joe Natuman in 2015 and he assured a payment to the fishermen.

In a parliament sitting in 2015, then Prime Minister Joe Natuman said the Government has no legal obligation but on humanitarian grounds it may consider a goodwill payment to the fishermen.

The fishermen have then waited ever since. Kuanuan has stepped down and the new President Kalatei hasn’t given up as the fight still goes on.

Mr Kaletei said that promises after promises until today the government is ignoring them therefore they are taking the issue to another step to put up Palekula for fishing business whether locally or internationally.

When Daily Post checked the Lands Department, Palekula was legally registered under National Fishermen's Cooperative Marketing Consumer Society Limited and was later transferred to Getland Holding and Investment LTD.

“We are taking this issue seriously because these fishermen who were employed by a foreign company experienced very severe working conditions in the fishing boats,” Kaletei said.

“There was no time to shower nor shave on those boats for these fishermen for whom majority have no academic qualification but still brought a lot of money to this country.”

He said that a lot of the members are now deceased, one of the vocal members who died recently was Joseph Ramawi who was killed outside Chuan Store in Tagabe.

The government had asked the fishermen to arrange their house in order, which they claimed they did – but nothing good happened but the failure over and over again by the government.

Former Prime Minister Natuman once said in the Parliament, “Many of them are now in Port Vila and they have high expectations that the government is going to do something.

“Are they misdirected or are we giving false hope to them, can the government say something? Every time we pass in buses or taxis we see them meeting at Fatumauri bay, discussing their claims.”

Mr Natuman told Parliament the fishermen’s issue is a long story with sad elements.

“Many fishermen went to work on Palekula for the South Pacific Fishing Company (SPFC).

“Their money was managed by this entity until politicians came on the scene and mismanaged their money to the point where the SPFC as a limited company became bankrupt.

“As a result, probably three Commissions of Inquiry were set up. The first when Mr Barak Sope was Prime minister, their findings indicated that the monies of the fishermen with SPFC disappeared with the liquidation of the SPFC.

“Probably if there were some assets these can be given, what happened was that the government agreed to give SPFC on Santo which at the time was new and had a slipway.”

It remains to be seen if the former fishermen are legally entitled to offer Palekula to any individual business man or company to operate.

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