VANUATU PM TO ADDRESS ‘APPALLING’ POLICE HOUSING

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Many deteriorating houses build prior to independence

By Glenda Shing PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 10, 2011) – In Vanuatu, Prime Minister Sato Kilman has described the housing conditions of the Vanuatu Police Force as "appalling".

He made this statement during his official visit to some of the houses belonging to Vanuatu Police officers residing at Independence Park Area, Sea Side Police and George Pompidou on Friday.

The Police officers have a role to provide high level security to the nation yet, most of them live with their families in worsened and deteriorated conditions. Daily Post understands that the houses were built during the condominium era.

Daily Post was with the team during the visit and witnessed that the houses were deteriorating conditions, yet people are currently living in them.

One house of a high-ranking officer does not even have louvers at all, including its bathroom. The owner of the house who is a well known senior Police officer, said people can see them when they are having their shower. Another house had cracks all over, while some had broken screens. In one of the houses at Independence Park area, there was even a bucket at the side of the bed of the officer and his wife’s bedroom room. The bucket was placed there to catch the rain water when it rains because the roof was leaking.

In response to the visit, Prime Minister Kilman said one of the strategies he wanted to improve when he became the head of the Government was the product performance of the civil servants, which includes the police, health and education. He agreed that the government has always wanted its employees to perform well; however, he admitted that the government has its responsibility also to make sure the conditions provided to its employees are good, so that they can perform better.

"We as managers of Vanuatu have to ensure that the working conditions and living conditions of the police are in good condition," said Kilman.

Kilman said one usual practice is when the government assets goes bad, they would be sold, however, he said he will not accept such practices in the case of the government houses.

He assured officers that whatever costs it will take them to repair all the houses, not only in Port Vila but across the country, it will have to be done.

"I want you to find quick solutions to get these houses repaired," he told the Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister of Finance including his Director, Secretary to the Public Service Commission, and the Commissioner of Police and other Police Officers.

He added that if there is a need to change the legislations or even amend the legislations in order to address the issue, then that must be done. He appealed to the officials to share any ideas they have which they think would contribute to the solutions, to be brought to his level, so the issue can be addressed.

He agreed that people may think that money could be a stumbling block to the process of the renovations; however, he said that is only an excuse.

"If we become dependent on our decisions to achieve what we want to achieve, then we can find funds to make it happen."

The Prime Minister said today a lot of people do not see the value of government properties.

"Imagine if the houses are in good conditions, and we compare them to what we witnessed today, I’m sure it would just take roughly a half of what we are intended to do," he said.

He called on everyone to work together and contribute to bring back the value of the government, which properties are part of.

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