5 Jun 2024

Pacific news in brief for June 5

3:44 pm on 5 June 2024
Air Vanuatu plane lands

Photo: Hilaire Bule

Samoa - independence

Samoa has been celebrating 62 years of independence from colonial rule.

Despite the government scaling down the festivities this year, schools, businesses and government ministries waved Samoan flags for the Independence march.

Samoa's Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali'ifano Va'aletoa Sualauvi II used the occasion to appeal to the nation for unity and support as Samoa prepares to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in October.

Prime Minister Fimae Naomi Mata'afa said the anniversary was a "reminder of the many years past that we have journeyed through, savoring successes and reflecting on what can be done to respond to persistent challenges".

Samoa - crash

A motor glider that crashed into the sea off the coast of Vaitele, killing the pilot, was unlicensed as police continue investigations into the tragedy.

Police Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo confirmed to the Samoa Observer that the glider was not licensed.

He said the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, who deal with gliders and licensing, said the glider was not licensed and the pilot had been told to go in and get a license but he did not.

The motor glider was flown by retired Captain, Philip Meredith.

Vanuatu - airline

Vanuatu's deputy Prime Minister says it's likely domestic flights will resume in July.

A memorandum of understanding has been signed between Vanuatu and Nauru (yesterday).

Matai Seremaiah, who is also the chair of a task force appointed to look after Air Vanuatu, told the Daily Post Nauru Airlines can provide a service from Port Vila to Santo.

Qantas and Jetstar are looking to move in on Australia-Vanuatu services, while Fiji Airways has also shown interest in restoring some domestic flights.

Meanwhile, the liquidators of Air Vanuatu are seeking urgent expressions of interest for the re-capitalisation of the company or the purchase of the business, its assets, and its undertakings.

Tonga - electricity

Tonga's sole electricity provider is working with New Zealand power company Northpower to improve Tonga's electricity network infrastructure.

Tonga Power Limited's engineers, alongside Northpower's inspection solutions team, conducted comprehensive network assessments in October 2023 and April 2024, and found areas of network deterioration that require immediate and strategic interventions.

The kingdom often faces power outages.

Tonga Power Limited says this collaboration with Northpower symbolises a significant step towards a reliable and resilient electricity network for Tonga.

The project will cost around $3.8 million pa'anga (about US$1.61m).

Marshall Islands - airport

A large-scale airport paving and improvement project in the Marshall Islands is expected to get underway in late July or early August.

This is according to the site contractor, Pacific International Inc.

The Marshall Islands Journal reports a large asphalt plant has been set up a mile to the west of the airport runway, at the Lojamwe weto quarry operated by Pacific International.

A fleet of new trucks, paving equipment and other heavy equipment was imported by the company for the work.

The first phase of the project is valued at US$21.4 million.

Cook Islands - vapes

The sale of e-cigarettes and vapes in the Cook Islands is expected to be banned by the first of next month.

Ministry of Health secretary Bob Williams told Cook Islands News it is when the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act 2024 will likely be introduced.

He said sellers of tobacco and vapes have been advised to stop placing new orders.

Williams said the 1 July start will give shops time to clear existing stock.