FIJI – People in Fiji are being warned of more heavy rain and strong winds as one storm moves off and another heads towards the island group. The Fiji Met Office said a tropical disturbance northeast of Vanuatu was moving to the far northwest of Fiji and could become a category 1 cyclone. Forecaster Sakeasi Rabitu said there’s a moderate to high chance of the storm developing into a cyclone by Friday. “With this disturbance approaching, it’s going to bring a lot more rain with some winds as well, becoming windy and gusty at times, with this rain and thunderstorms. Everyone has been warned.” A tropical depression moving southwestwards away from Fiji triggered heavy rain and strong wind warnings and a flood alert and these remain in force for certain areas, including Vanua Levu, as the next storm approaches.
PRISONERS ESCAPE TWICE IN ONE MONTH
AMERICAN SAMOA – Two inmates who escaped from American Samoa’s prison last month are on the loose again. The Commissioner of Public Safety, Lei Sonny Thompson, said Joe Togitogi and Joseph Iosefa Iakopo escaped over the weekend. The pair were caught on camera cutting the bars to their cell and climbing into the ceiling to escape from the Territorial Correctional Facility. Lei said the search for the pair continues and the public’s help is needed. He said changes were being made in the operation of the facility to prevent escapes. Lei said a guard would be stationed in the cell block for every shift. As for the two escapees, the commissioner said he planned to have them secured at the Central police station in Fagatogo when they were recaptured.
strike looms over pension reform
FRENCH POLYNESIA – Unions in French Polynesia have warned of a general strike next week in protest at the government’s proposed pension reform. At a meeting in Papeete, they decided to lodge a notice for a strike as they want the project to be scrapped. Last month, there were unsuccessful negotiations over plans to raise the retirement age next year from 60 to 62. The proposal also requires those seeking to have a full pension to contribute to social security for 38 years and not for 35 – and also changes the terms for early retirement. The president Edouard Fritch said last month that failing to reform the system will make it impossible to assure all pensions will be paid after 2020. Fritch said he intended to table the reform plan in the assembly this month and have it adopted before the territorial election in April.
agencies told to ‘catch the bus’
AMERICAN SAMOA – American Samoa’s governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga says some government agencies are not taking their daily cash collections form business transactions to Treasury as required by territorial regulations. He told a recent cabinet meeting the agencies have claimed they weren’t able to deliver the money because there was no available government car to transport the funds in. The governor said there was a long list of departments that wanted to buy cars using local funds but he had dismissed their requests. Lolo has told agency directors to “catch the bus” to make the daily deposits and reminded people that there were plenty of buses operating daily.