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By Rita Bill

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (The Independent, May 30) – The development at the Port Vila sea-front for the Iririki company has led the paramount chiefs of Tongoa, who are amongst claimants for the Port-Vila urban area, the market house association, and the public land transport association to mobilize together to stop the developer's work by setting up a namele [fern] leaf tabu [forbidden] sign.

A representative of the paramount chief of Tongoa, Chief Tarisaliu Alec Louis Pakoa told The Independent that the Port Vila urban area is still in dispute between Paramount chiefs of Tongoa and seven others claimants from Ifira, and the court has not yet decided who is the true custom owner. Ifira Land Trust, also one of the claimants, has, however, signed an agreement with Iririki, the municipality, and the minister of lands for development to take place even though the case is still in court.

[PIR editor’s note: Ifira and Iririki are small islands located offshore from the Vanuatu capital of Port Vila.]

The market house association and the public land transport association have joined the paramount chiefs of Tongoa in the namele leaf tabu to express their concern as the area involved and fenced is a public area where public transport parking area used by drivers waiting for their customers or by market mamas for loading and unloading produce and food.

They say the area was once declared public land by the Minister of Lands, Maxime Carlot Korman, and Chief Tarisaliu has asked the minister to respect the disputed status of the land because there are piles of claims to be settled in court.

Paramount chiefs of Tongoa, the market house association and the land transport association have not only put a tabu on the developer building, but also to prevent their paying an amount to Ifira Land Trust because of the dispute.

June 1, 2006

Port Vila Presse:

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