Vanuatu Residents Not Consulted On Port Vila Wharf Development

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Temporary harbor plan during construction phase worries public

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, July 21, 2014) – Port Vila residents are concerned over the Vanuatu government's development plan for an inter-island wharf, saying there has been no formal public consultation on interim measures.

Residents in Port Vila are concerned about the Vanuatu Government's plan for an inter-island wharf, saying there has been no public consultation on interim measures.

Ross Ward is leading a group of locals who say they have not been consulted about what is happening in the harbour while the new wharf is under construction.

"The Star Wharf itself is welcomed by everyone, it is what they're trying to do as a temporary wharf while it's under construction and construct a temporary wharf for all the domestic ships and the various derelict ships that are lying around within a residential area," he told Pacific Beat.

Mr Ward says the current interim proposal will involve towing a barge from Noumea, installing it in a half-acre area of illegally reclaimed residential land and operating this on a road leading into residential properties and businesses.

He says it will have a "very big impact" on residents.

"The existing Star Wharf, on days when the freighters come in from various islands there are hundreds of vehicles and people milling around taking off their various produce and to try and operate this on a road is considered very, very stupid."

He says the main concern is that the barge will not be removed after the new wharf is finished.

"Anything temporary in the Port Vila Vanuatu area appears to not get removed and its not part of the contract and this barge, which is in a cyclone area of course, will never ever get moved, it will be there forever and a day until it sinks.

"The operation will be temporary but the actual barge will remain there, who's going to take it away?

"It's not part of the contract and as we've seen with all the various derelict ships around, it's very hard to get rid of anything like that."

Mr Ward has held a meeting with 15 residents to establish a reasonable temporary means of accommodating ships.

He says he hopes to make some progress despite Vanuatu's turbulent political situation.

"We haven't officially got anywhere but we feel we are getting there and we feel we have enough people on board that will be able to make a difference," Mr Ward said.

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