Vanuatu Chiefs Express Interest In New Airport Proposal

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Council discussions result in positive feedback from landowners

By Len Garae

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 28, 2013) – The Chairman of the Vaturisu Council of Chiefs Chief Andrew Kalpoilep and his Secretary General Chief Jimmy Meameadola have received expressions of interests verbally as well as in black and white from landowners from Erakor, Eratap and Eton as well as North Efate for the possibility to build a new international airport on their lands in Vanuatu.

They announced their initial findings in an urgent meeting with the Secretary General of Shefa Province Michel Kalworai yesterday.

Shefa Provincial Secretariat mandated the Vaturisu Council of Chiefs to discuss the request by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Tourism, Ham Lini, for the chiefs and landowners of Efate to decide if the island can accommodate a bigger international airport.

The Deputy Prime Minister requested the Shefa Secretary General to consult the Vaturisu over the project only on January 11.

A new airport of that size comprising approximately 3 kilometers of land is necessary to take 747 and 767 planes with a capacity of 400 and 300 passengers.

Vaturisu has moved at super speed to process the request and now, it is analyzing their expressions of interest with a view to holding meetings with companies that own plantations on the lands under consideration.

The Vaturisu will report back to the Shefa Provincial Secretariat shortly in order for the Secretary General to put the cards on the table for the Government to decide on.

Chief Kalpoilep wishes to thank all those landowners for their expressions of interest in the project saying they too see the potential economic impact on the prosperity of the country by way of work opportunities and substantial financial benefits.

Meanwhile Studio Five North has reported Sanma Provincial Secretariat as saying that Santo as the biggest island in the country has more than enough space on which to build the international airport, that Efate has all the major developments so far.

Broadcaster James Moli asked the Director of Tourism Development Office, George Borugu whether he thought Efate or Santo had the space to accommodate the new airport and Borugu replied, "Santo has great potential in terms of space but the people of Santo have to change their mentality first in order to allow such a project to be built here".

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