“We now declare this center open in the name of God, the people of Vanuatu and the people of Australia,” Prime Minister, Bob Loughman and Australian High Commissioner, Sarah deZoeten announced as they officially unveiled the newly opened National Fitness and Evacuation Centre (NFEC) -formerly known as EX FOL.
This event took place on Friday 15th May in Port Vila.
The unveiling of the newly facility shows another great achievement of a continued supporting sporting relationship between the Australia and Vanuatu Government. This is not the first time the Government of Australia has assisted Vanuatu in terms of Sport for the last five years. Australia has also supported sports a lot in Vanuatu through the Pacific Sports Partnerships program.
“A big thank you indeed to the people and government of Australia for answering the call to rebuilt this facility as part of its $50 million commitment responding to devastating cost by TC Pam in 2015,” PM Bob Loughman said, commencing his speech.
The PM also acknowledged other supporting friends who have helped Vanuatu in many ways.
“This building is renamed as National Fitness and Evacuation Centre, so this building addresses both health as well as an appropriate shelter in times for disaster.
“Devastation caused by Cat 5 Cyclones like Pam and Harold have demanded the total rethink of how we as government as well as communities must be proactive in investing in proper facilities capable of providing reliable protection during times of disaster.
“We can no longer take for granted that the use for schools and churches as usual evacuation centers without proper investments in a more resilient facilities,” the PM stated.
PM Loughman said this government will do its best to provide the necessary means to upgrade this facility according to all the required standards to continue operating as a sporting facility as well as for health purposes when the need arises.
“This government is committed to assist the Vanuatu National Sports Commission (VNSC) in the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports to restore these facilities following the principles of building back, better and stronger to continue to servicing our people.”
Prime Minister Loughman also stated that he is delighted that Vanuatu is bidding to host the 2027 Pacific Games, and a facility such as the NFEC will add value to the bid.
“The Government will do all it can to facilitate and provide the necessary support for the upgrading the existing facilities as well as investigating options for additional required facilities to host all sports competitions,” he added.
PM Loughman strongly urged VNSC and all its users to take care when using this sporting facility.
“Proper and timely maintenance must be practiced in all sport facilities managed throughout the country in order to provide ongoing services in the future,” PM Loughman concluded.
In her official remarks, High Commissioner Sarah deZoeten says, “We have gathered today to celebrate another big achievement and an example of strong partnership between Australia and Vanuatu over the past five years. It is an honor to witness a refurbished building today.
“I am happy to see that this building is not only for sports but for sports administration and a place to providing shelter in case of disaster.”
Ms deZoeten says Australia is always ready to support and assist Vanuatu in times of disaster like the previous support for TC Pam and the ongoing / current response for TC Harold and COVID-19.
She said Vanuatu and Australia have worked together to build a lot of buildings damaged by TC Pam through the Public Works Department under the Project Management Unit to renovate and build back better 63 public buildings, through Education 204 classrooms and 73 Health buildings.
She added, “Everyone’s presence today has showed the very strong and healthy relationship between Australia and Vanuatu.
“This Project has shown strong engagement and partnership between each other. I want to congratulate Vanuatu government through the Public Works Department and all local construction companies for the excellent effort offered to complete the building facility.”
The Australian High Commissioner concluded her remarks saying that Australia is also strengthening its sporting links with Vanuatu and other pacific countries.
“We will continue to strengthen our sporting links if things get better one day. I am looking forward to see us use this building facility and to take care of the center in the years to come,” she concluded.
Meanwhile, NFEC renovation and reconstruction is part of the Tropical Cyclone Pam recovery program funded by Australian Government’s Tropical Cyclone Pam Recovery Programme and implemented by Public Works Department and other local construction companies. The National Fitness & Evacuation Centre is located in what was formally known as ‘FOYER OMNISPORT DU LYCEE’ (FOL which was later called Ex-FOL) – an indoor multipurpose sports facility, taken over by the National Government after Independence in 1980.
The new facility includes the renovation of the old sports hall, the gymnasium and office blocks (with a conference room and kitchen) and an extension of the toilet (male/female) and shower block with changing room.
Minister responsible for Youth Development and Sports, Willie Saatearoto wishes to extend his gratitude to the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Bob Loughman, the Australian High Commissioner, Sarah deZoeten and the Government of Australia for their generosity in providing funding for the establishment of the NFEC, Government Ministers, Director Generals, Diplomatic Missions, Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs, Vanuatu Conference of Churches, and members of the public who participated in the opening of the NFEC in Port Vila.
The Minister also acknowledged the following local contractors; Building and Roofing Vanuatu, MA Builders, Island Construction and BI Consulting Engineers who have made the dream facility a reality.
The Ministry would also like to confirm that the new National Fitness and Evacuation Center, including the Gymnasium is now open for use. Any interested users should contact the Vanuatu National Sports Commission or visit the Department for Youth Development & Sports Office located at the NFEC Area for more information.