Vanuatu too slow to act over cyclone disaster planning, claims Kalsakau

A New Zealand C-130 Hercules being loaded for Fiji, carrying 12 tonnes of aid supplies including tool kits, generators, water, ration packs, water containers, chainsaws and tarpaulins. Image: VDP/NZ Defence Force

Vanuatu’s Opposition has expressed sadness with the government and the people of Fiji, and people of Vanuatu and students living in Fiji over the devastation and loss of life from the category 5 tropical cyclone Winston last weekend.

A statement issued by Opposition Leader Ishmael Kalsakau said his Office was extremely disappointed to see that after severe tropical cyclone Winston hit Fiji where many ni-Vanuatu students are studying in schools and universities and the people of Fiji were facing hardship, the Vanuatu government had not yet produced assistance plans.

“Vanuatu must be reminded that we went through a similar tragedy and Fiji assisted us in a huge way and sent its technical people to come and assist us,” the statement read.

“The Office of the Opposition wants to tell the government that we must tell ourselves that it is enough of planning in a reactionary manner and to start adopting proactive measures so we are ready to tackle problems before they overcome us.

“The problem of being reactionary has led us to become victims in a big way in natural disasters such as cyclone Pam.

“When we receive a forecast for rain tomorrow, we must be ready with the umbrella today,” the statement continues.

It says the government made a reserve of around 1.3 billion vatu (about NZ$17 million) last year, which showed the prudent management of the previous government. But this must allow the country to be more active and prepared for natural disasters that may affect us, our friends and our families.”

‘No idleness’
With the predictions of tropical cyclone Winston, the technical people of Vanuatu should already have already “sat down and put together a package” for government to apply in a situation like this and to reassure ni-Vanuatu people who live in Fiji and the Fiji government, the statement said.

“It is not possible [in] this day and age for the performance of any government of the day to show idleness on the part of government on issues that affect the lives of the people.”

The Opposition urged the government to reflect and regenerate the country’s response time on issues such as these when information received showed they would happen so that the government can plan to tackle them it in a way that minimise their effects and show the people the government was ready and capable of looking after the welfare of all.

“The time for reaction should have been [last weekend]. Even just a word of support would already [have been] a huge gesture,” said Kalsakau.

“The Office of the Opposition would like to take this opportunity to share its sadness with the government and the people of Fiji over the tragedy they are facing and thank God Almighty for looking after our people in Fiji.”

The death toll from the cyclone in Fiji has reached 44 this week, according to reports from Fiji.

The Daily Post tried to contact government leaders but could not reach any.

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