24 Jan 2014

Tongan opposition critical of government cyclone response

3:19 pm on 24 January 2014

Tonga's opposition People's Democratic Party has criticised the government for being ineffective and inefficient in responding to the people's needs following Cyclone Ian.

Nine days after the category five storm struck, the Tongan government formally requested humanitarian aid, saying its capacity, resources and expertise are too limited to deal with the storm's lasting impact.

The opposition leader, Akilisi Pohiva, says the government was too slow to act.

"The whole purpose of having an emergency office is to act immediately after the disaster. But the government has been very reluctant to come in. And that really shows how inefficient and ineffective the government are in carrying out their duties to the public."

Akilisi Pohiva says much of the immediate recovery work was done by independent bodies like Tongan aid agencies and churches.

The Deputy Prime Minister and chair of the National Emergency office, Samiu Vaipulu, has refuted those claims.