15 Aug 2013

Vanuatu's Shefa province says landowners key in airport decisions

1:31 pm on 15 August 2013

A Vanuatu provincial head says respecting indigenous landowners rights is paramount in decisions on a new international airport.

The Secretary General of Shefa province, Michel Kalorai, says he hopes there'll be a system in place to involve chiefs and landowners to avoid disputes.

The Vanuatu government has a deal with a Singaporean oil palm and tobacco producer to have it build and operate airports around the country for the next 50 years.

Mr Kalorai says the Shefa local government has involved the Efate Council of Chiefs in its own strategic plan which has identified three sites on Efate for a new international airport.

"Respect of the landowners is very paramount. At the end of the day, it's the landowners that get the impact of it. I will be very glad if there is some of system or process in place for all parties to be part of that project."

Michel Kalorai says Shefa province also wants an upgrade to the domestic airports on Epi and Shepherd Islands.