18 Nov 2023

Pacific news in brief for November 17

11:24 am on 18 November 2023
Nauru is trying to overturn a decision that froze the country's bank accounts.

The Australian government and the Asian Development Bank are supporting Nauru as it searches for another bank. Photo: AFP

Nauru - bank

An Australian bank that has been providing Nauru with its only banking service for some years, has signalled it will leave the island at the end of next year.

The Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and the Nauru government in a statement said the bank is aiming to "reduce complexity and simplify its business by focusing on its Australian operations".

It said it has given more than twelve months' notice to enable an orderly transition to another banking provider.

Both parties have stressed to the people of Nauru that their money is safe and held in Australia.

The Australian government and the Asian Development Bank are supporting Nauru as it searches for another bank.

Cook Islands - park

Suwarrow park rangers have returned to Rarotonga after spending six months on the small uninhabited island.

Each year, the Cook Islands National Environment Service sends two caretakers to the national park, which can only be accessed by boat.

They return to Rarotonga each year during the cyclone season.

The rangers only have each other and yachties passing by for company while they're there.

Cook Islands News reports the sailing season kept them busy this season with 152 yachts stopping in.

Suwarrow is 930 kilometres north-northwest of the main island of Rarotonga.

Samoa - booster

Samoa's Health Ministry is advising the public to go and get a Covid-19 booster shot.

The fifth wave of Covid-19 to hit New Zealand and the United States has prompted action from the ministry, as both countries have daily flights into Samoa.

Director general of health Aiono Dr Alec Ekeroma said there's waning immunity for those who were vaccinated in 2021 and in 2022.

The ministry also strongly recommends a booster shot for health workers and first responders, the elderly and those with under lying health conditions

It is also recommended that pregnant mothers return for a booster shot.

The booster vaccine is available at the Expanded Program on Immunisation building at Moto'otua from Monday to Friday.

Solomon Islands - airfield

Solomon Islands government says the Choiseul Bay airfield is now open for service.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare joined the high commissioners of New Zealand and Australia for a handover ceremony in Taro to mark the completion of an upgrade at the airfield last weekend.

The upgrade at Taro is part of a US$29 million programme to improve provincial airfields around the country.

Construction, completed by Downer New Zealand involved resealing a runway that has been lengthened to 960 metres and building sea walls designed to last for the next 50 years,.

New Zealand high commissioner Jonathan Schwass said the new runway and lighting system would make Choiseul Bay airfield safer, more reliable, and able to accommodate larger aircraft.

The next project is Seghe in Western Province, where the work rebuilding the runway should be completed by June next year.

Samoa - couples

A proposal from Samoa's Ministry of Police and Prisons to allow married couples or those in a relationship to work within the ministry, has been given the green light by the Cabinet.

The previous government had banned married couples from working together in the force.

Minister of Police and Prisons, Faualo Harry Schuster told the Samoa Observer, that it needs to change the regulation in order to implement the updated policy.

In an earlier interview with the paper, Police Commissioner Auapa'au Logoitino Filipo indicated the ministry was revisiting the matter because the Minister had said it was discriminatory.

Samoa - solar

Samoa's Electric Power Corporation (EPC) general manager has told the Samoa Observer there's plenty of interest from companies wanting to operate two solar farms it recently purchased.

The solar plants were bought from Solar For Samoa for US$740,000 dollars in August this year.

Faumui Iese Toimoana said the two solar farms are located at Faleolo and Tuanaimato.

He said the intention of buying the farms was so the corporation can break away from the Independent Power Producer contract, which had the company paying more for the electricity than they were able to sell it for.

Faumui said the EPC was not prepared to run the solar farm because of the outlay this would involve.

He said the interested parties will be taken on a tour of the solar farms on Friday before bidding starts.