Forced to eat unripened crops
VANUATU – People affected by last month’s Cyclone Lusi in Vanuatu have been forced to eat unripened crops while they wait for goverment assistance. Affected populations were advised to use up left over crops damaged by the cyclone but in some areas, those crops have now run out. New crops have been planted but they are meant to be harvested in three to six months. The National Disaster Management Office submitted an assesment for food relief on Monday, which is still awaiting a government decision. Kensley Micah from the Provincial Disaster Committee in Sanma Province says locals are having to eat foods like unripe bananas. “Right now they have to eat whatever that is there, even if it is not yet ready. But they have to eat it because there’s nothing for them to eat.”
Public transport safety concerns
PAPUA NEW GUINEA – The National Road Safety Council of Papua New Guinea has raised the alarm about the poor state of taxis and small buses in the capital. It says between 80 and 90 per cent of them are not roadworthy and are being operated illegally, which puts at risk the thousands of passengers that rely on them. The Council’s Executive Director, Nelson Tereme, says despite impounding hundreds of buses and taxies over the years, the owners only pay a fine and continue to operate illegally. He says Port Moresby will host the South Pacific Games and other important meetings but public transport is appalling. Tereme says there needs to be some form of harsh penalty for offenders to improve road safety.
High cost of Kiribati’s sanitation cited
KIRIBATI – The Asian Development Bank says poor water supply and sanitation in Kiribati are costing the country up to four per cent of its gross domestic product every year. A new report has made the economic estimate to guide reforms and boost urban development in the densly populated South Tarawa area. It says the low-lying atoll has limited freshwater resources which are easily contaminated, and residents receive piped water for only two hours every two days because of high leakage from the system. The report says poorly functioning sanitation systems and practices are polluting the groundwater and the marine environment. Health officials say with three outbreaks of diarrheal disease every year and high infant mortality rates, vulnerable groups have the most to gain from money spent on improved water services in Kiribati.
Police commissioner sacks his deputy
FIJI – Fiji’s acting Police Commissioner, Ravi Narayan, has sacked his deputy, Isikeli Ligairi, for disciplinary reasons. In a statement, he says the decision was made because of insubordination against his office. The acting commissioner says every police officer is expected to display loyalty and uphold the law. Meanwhile, the Fiji Police Chief of Operations, Rusiate Tudravu, says the force will work from its current strength for the general elections in September. He says he has been meeting the Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem, in trying to clarify the manpower needed. This comes as the Fiji regime leader, Frank Bainimarama, is still under police investigation for breaching both a decree and a law that could theoretically disqualify him from the poll.
Newly-elected Niue MP challenged
NIUE– A Niue MP who won an assembly seat this month after straws were drawn following a tied vote is being challenged. Dion Taufitu of the village of Toi faces a petition for an inquiry from Mokaelalini Vaha. Vaha claims four voters unlawfullly took part in the village election. She claims two voters who were on the roll flew in from New Zealand to cast a vote and two others living on Niue did not meet the residency qualifications to vote in the constitutency. The hearing is before Chief Justice Patrick Savage of the Maori Land Court on May 7. Last week, Toke Talagi was re-elected as premier after securing a 12 to eight majority in the assembly.