Vanuatu evicted to be moved to new site
More than 300 residents have been evicted from an illegal settlement in the capital Port Vila.
Police in Vanuatu enforced an eviction order this week against more than 300 people living illegally near Port Vila's airport
The residents had been living on government leased land in an area called Destination since 2008.
Indira Moala reports.
Vanuatu's acting police commissioner says he wasn't sure why the residents had decided to settle in the area in the first place, knowing it did not belong to them. Aru Maralau says they tried to obtain a stay order for permanent residency from the courts.
ARU MARALAU: There was an order to lease the area but they kept on applying for a stay order. Until the last decision was by the court of...which is the last court in Vanuatu that didn't grant them anymore stay orders so we were ordered to evict them. We asked them to evict themselves so they can get whatever they want. We move in and start destroying houses and ....we will not save much of that Timber and roofing. They were expecting it, they know one of these days will come. We have no choice and they have to move so some of them are prepared but waiting for us to step on the doors and say 'ok it's time now'.
Mr Maralau commended the residents who they evicted for being very cooperative. But the day before the eviction and demolition process, some of the residents put up a road block on the main road leading to the airport, in protest. An evicted resident Jeffrey Owen says the police arrested about 20 of the residents.
JEFFREY OWEN: The reason for the road block is to protest that government have to know how we live and find our place to go. But the government didn't respond to us and it didn't tell us anything. So that's why the people tried to disturb and they made a road block. But the force didn't understand why we protest so they come and arrest some of us.
Immediately after the eviction the government announced they had secured land for the former Destination residents to move to. The Minister of Lands, Ralph Regenvanu said he tried to delay the eviction order but that was denied by the courts.
RALPH REGENVANU: Well I, as Minister of Lands, asked the court to hold up on the eviction order to try and negotiate if we could find them some land. Yes the court wouldn't give more than a month. I asked for longer than that but the court said the matter had been delayed for too long. So we managed to get a month, but it wasn't enough time to confirm the arrangements for the other bit of land we have now secured.
Mr Regenvanu says land has been found outside Port Vila in Etas.
RALPH REGENVANU: The agreement with the landowner is that they can move on immediately. We still have to look at the issue of services to the land but there are water services. It's in an area where they haven't yet got electricity services but at least there's water services.
Mr Regenvanu says the government will help residents move to the new settlement.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: