Chiefs from Pentecost are against the Government’s decision to relocate the headquarters of PENAMA Provincial Government Council to its original location on Ambae.
Minister of Trade James Bule had confirmed that PENAMA Provincial Headquarters is returning from Loltong on Pentecost to its original site at Saratamata during his first official visit to his home constituency of Ambae earlier this month.
While a letter is yet to be sent to the Government to formally express their dissatisfaction over the relocation, Pentecost chiefs have already met to share ideas and to take a common stand to make their voice heard by the decision makers.
Sources on the island say Pentecost chiefs, from North to South, jointly disagreed with the Government decision to move the headquarters back to Saratamata on East Ambae in a meeting at Loltong on Saturday.
Boats and vehicles were made available to pick up all interested people around Pentecost to attend the meeting thus it was attended by hundreds of people, including chiefs and provincial councillors on the island.
Sources said during the meeting, chiefs expressed their worries on how Ambae has to accommodate the provincial headquarters when the island is at risk to volcanic eruption and that the people of Pentecost will no longer accept that their province’s headquarters be moved again to their island if Manaro volcano erupts again in the future.
“When Salwai’s Government decided to remove PENAMA’s Head Office to Loltong, ceremonies were made through custom level to welcome the headquarters and to hand over the new location with the new facility in place.
“The same procedure should be applied when the current Government wants to move the headquarters from Loltong back to Ambae,” reports said.
“All they want is for the Government to review it decision,” a villager from Loltong conveyed.
Sources said the chiefs agreed not to allow the provincial headquarters back to Ambae with all provincial assets.
“The Government has helped to develop the site were the new location of the provincial headquarters is with new infrastructures,” the villager who attended the meeting said.
“Land has been given to the State by Loltong Community for subdivision.
“The people have worked to give to the province the best they can and suddenly we heard that the headquarters have to be removed to its original location.
“I heard a high chief from North Pentecost saying at the meeting that it is a slap to them and looks like a political maneuvering.”
As people from Pentecost were witnessing the departure of provincial employees from Loltong to Saratamata recently, local dignitaries chose to have their voice heard by the current Government regarding their disapproval on the relocation without their consent.
“When the Council of Ministers under the Salwai-led Government decided that PENAMA’s Provincial Headquarter be moved to Pentecost, we were consulted and the decision was a collective one because Ambae could no longer accommodate it due to natural disaster.
“Our people and their chiefs should have their say when another decision is taken to remove the headquarters from Pentecost,” a community leader from Loltong said.
Asked if all the provincial staff are already back at Saratamata, the source from Loltong said, “Secretary General Judah Garoleo is still here with some officers and all the office furniture”.
When the provincial headquarters were relocated to Loltong last year, all office furniture and all the staff were also moved to the new location.