Over 100 police officers serving in Port Vila will be relocating temporarily to a new office today because the current main police building is unsafe.
The Acting Commissioner of Police Management Services and overseer of the Acting Police Commissioner, George Songi, said the current state of the entire building which was built over 30 years ago is dangerous for both workers and the public.
“The Vanuatu Mobile Force (VMF) and Kramer Ausenco Limited have assessed the conditions of the building,” he said.
”The building is old and can collapse anytime an earthquake occurs.
“It has been sealed by police yesterday to keep the public away.”
Mr Songi was speaking in a press conference held yesterday after the police officers moved out from the building located in town due to ongoing water leakage.
Police fear the leakage can lead to extensive structural damage, which poses risks to their health and safety. They vacated their offices but continued to serve the public in front of the building yesterday.
The leakage was detected on Friday last week.
One of the officers said they moved out from their offices after being told by the VMF Engineers that the building is unsafe for work.
He stressed both the water leakage and the deteriorating conditions of the building are major concerns.
He added they decided to move out to request the government provide a secure building where they can work.
Daily Post went into the building and saw firsthand water penetrating through cracks in the Police Tactical Response Unit while police officers were trying to stop the water on the floor from spreading to the power storage and firearms rooms.
When questioned about the cause of the leakage, Sergeant Alwin Sogovlea said the leakage is associated with the current dilapidated state of the building.
The Acting Commissioner of Police Management Services, Songi, said the same. “The building is designed in a way that it is difficult to find where the fault is. It was built during the colonial era.”
He said they were aware of the issue since 2016.
Asked why it has taken this long to address the matter, Mr Songi said the government has not considered it a priority until recently.
“I want to assure the public that the relocation will not affect service delivery. The police will continue to provide 24-hour service every day.
“The phone numbers for the police station and emergency number are still accessible anytime people need assistance,” he added.
The Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) will be hiring office spaces at the Vila Mall to accommodate the officers for the time being while the government finds a location for the new police station.
Daily Post understands the monthly rent for the temporary offices is approximately Vt345,000.