5 Dec 2022

Pacific news in brief for December 5

1:44 pm on 5 December 2022
The Melsisi Catholic Church was ruined by Tropical Cyclone Harold.

The Melsisi Catholic Church was ruined by Tropical Cyclone Harold. Photo: Vanuatu Daily Post / Hilaire Bule

Students still in temporary classrooms two years after storm

Two years after Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Harold left a trail of destruction in Vanuatu many students in schools on the affected islands are still studying in temporary classrooms.

Melsisi Primary and Secondary School, which is the Francophone school on central Pentecost, was one of those severely damaged by Harold.

Since the destruction of the school buildings in April 2020, no repair or reconstruction work has been done.

Three structures, with tarpaulin rooves and walls of roofing iron provide the classrooms.

One parent said "our children are not kava to be 'dried' under the hot tarpaulins."

New Kiribati airport being built

The building of a new airport terminal building is underway on Nikunau Island in Kiribati.

A community worker on the island, Buangui Matiton, told Radio Kiribati News the construction was in response to the island's request for a new and a more comfortable terminal for both incoming and outgoing passengers.

The worker says its construction was led by a team from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Sustainable Energy with the assistance of one worker from each village.

The build was made possible by remaining financial aid and the islanders' fundraising activities.

New Marianas governor to reconsider temporary jobs

The Northern Marianas governor-elect says his administration would continue the "meaningful and impactful" programmes funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

But Arnold Palacios also said jobs funded under ARPA until the end of the year are not guaranteed to be extended.

The Marianas Variety reports outgoing Governor Ralph Torres created temporary job positions for ARPA-funded programmes.

Palacios said his administration will have to look at those jobs, which include 300 temporary positions on Saipan, Tinian and Rota that were allotted $US6 million in ARPA funds.

He said he is not going to go in there and terminate and disrupt people's lives, but he wanted to give everyone the time to potentially look for other employment.

Pre-polling begins in Fiji

In Fiji, the 2022 General Election pre-polling period officially starts today with 77,907 Fijians voting at 613 pre-polling venues this week.

Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem, said an electronic dashboard has been set up on the official elections website, which allows people to track the entire process of pre-poll voting on each of the five days.

Saneem said pre-polling will continue until Friday.

Nauru to hold 2023 flight forum

Nauru will host the next Regional Aviation Ministers Meeting, which is tentatively scheduled for November next year.

Nodel Neneiya, Secretary of the Ministry of Transport of Nauru, says the meeting will mark a significant step towards aviation growth through regional collaboration and commitment.

Last month's Aviation Officials Meeting in Vanuatu was attended by senior aviation officials from 13 Pacific states.

Sea cucumber harvesting, trading periods extended

The Fiji government has extended the harvesting and trading period for beche-de-mer, a sea cucumber delicacy, following requests from coastal communities.

FBC News reports the Minister for Fisheries, Semi Koroilavesau, saying the beche-de-mer population remains healthy.

Koroilavesau said this has been possible through the continued monitoring of beche-de-mer population health, timely data reporting from licensed harvesters and traders, proper data recording, analysis, enforcement and compliance with scientific backing.

The harvesting window has been extended to February 2 next year, while the trade and export period has been extended to April 2.

New health and education bosses for Samoa

Samoa has appointed a new CEO of Health and a CEO of Education.

The new Education boss is Aeau Christopher Hazelman, who was Director of Catholic Education in Samoa for 13 years before being appointed as Pro Chancellor and Chairman of the National University of Samoa from 2014 to 2021.

Professor Aiono Alec Ekeroma, currently Vice Chancellor of the National University of Samoa, is the new CEO of Health.

Both appointments are for three-year terms.