Tonga’s Parliament seeks temporary home after Gita smashed old House

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Flattened by Cyclone Gita ... Tonga's Parliament House was first opened on 16 September 1875. Image: Sēmisi Sika/Kaniva News

By Kalino Latu, editor of Kaniva News

As Tonga struggles to recover from Cyclone Gita, authorities are looking for somewhere to host the next Parliamentary sessions next month.

Parliament needs a place to meet between March 1-15 so MPs can process bills and laws that are required for the government’s 2018-2019 budget.

A Parliamentary spokesperson said the Speaker’s office was working urgently to decide on a suitable venue before informing all Members of Parliament.

As Kaniva News reported yesterday, Tonga’s Parliament House, which is more than a century old, was flattened by tropical cyclone Gita.

Australia and New Zealand have already sent personnel and humanitarian supplies, including tarpaulins and water purification tablets to Tonga.

The New Zealand government had pledged $750,000 to help rescue and relief operations and an RNZAF Hercules would fly emergency relief supplies to the kingdom.

-Partners-

An RAAF C-17A Globemaster flew to Tonga with emergency relief supplies last night.

Tongan proposal to China
As Kaniva News reported last year, Tonga has submitted a proposal to the Chinese government to fund a new Parliament House.

The Chinese Ambassador to Tonga, Wang Baodong, was welcomed at the Legislative Assembly in June 2017.

It was not immediately clear whether Tongan and Chinese authorities have taken another look at the proposal after Parliament was levelled on Monday or not.

Cyclone Gita, a category four storm, struck Tonga’s main island Tongatapu and its nearby island ‘Eua on Monday, causing widespread damage.

Electricity lines were downed, roofs were torn off houses by the high winds and crops were destroyed.

Disaster Management Minister Poasi Tei told reporters in Nuku’alofa yesterday 119 homes were completely destroyed and 1131 with minor damages while 4500 people were at the 108 evacuation centres in Tongatapu.

Tonga Power workers have restored power in some areas in Tongatapu yesterday afternoon.

The Tonga Water Board announced that water supplies had been restored to almost all areas of Nuku’alofa.

In earlier reports, residents were finding it more difficult to cope with the aftermath because of lack of power which had also affected water supplies, communication and petrol stations.

Some people in Houmakelikao went to the Minister of Police’s residence and charged their mobile phones using electric generated from the Minster’s electric power generator.

The town of Houma in Tongatapu lost its water supply after their two-tank water supplier was destroyed by Gita.

The town’s residents took to Facebook to ask their community members overseas to help donate funding for a new water supplier.

Two deaths reported
As Kaniva News reported, two deaths have been confirmed. A 72-year-old man from Fua’amotu died at Vaiola Hospital.

Minister Poasi Tei told Kaniva News yesterday the impact of the cyclone might have contributed to the old man’s death.

RNZI quoted Lord Fusitu’a as saying an elderly woman died after her house was “completely blown away from her while she was in it.”

Police also confirmed three major injuries and 30 minor injuries on Tongatapu as a result of Gita.

Asia Pacific Report republishes some Kaniva News articles as a collaboration project.

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