Tongan govt looks at outer island needs
The Tongan Government is conducting orientation tours of the outer islands in an effort to stay connected and to review ongoing issues among the population there.
The Tongan government is conducting orientation tours of the outer islands in an effort to stay connected and to review ongoing issues among the population there.
A delegation led by the Deputy Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni has returned to the main island of Tongatapu after reviewing Vava'u.
Mr Sovaleni told Koro Vaka'uta what came out of the trip.
SIAOSI SOVALENI: As a result we actually met the district officers. We are hoping they can actually flag what they consider a priority especially like the immediate needs and then we can start talking about future needs.
KORO VAKA'UTA: What did you find over there? What was the state of play, so to speak?
SS: Well we had discussions and we identified agriculture as an area that we should try and look at especially like providing some equipment. We all agree that we need to do something, some more work, put in some more effort in that particular sector. The other sector that we actually looked at was infrastructure especially roads. The feeling we got is that it hasn't been maintained for awhile and we need to put some effort in that and government acknowledged that. We do need to actually do some work on that and we are putting resources into it.
KV: When might there be some sort of action on the ground in those regards with agriculture and infrastructure?
SS: The infrastructure, it is now on the ground. Fortunately we had the Minister of Infrastructure with us so he started immediately and I think maintaining some of the roads has already started and we are also looking at other key projects especially about degradation of the coastline. Those are some of the projects we are working on. Now we are currently discussing with the Ministry of Agriculture how we can about facilitating or providing some kind of assistance to actually help with the agricultural sector.
KV: Are you doing similar visits to the other islands like the Niuas, Ha'apai or 'Eua?
SS: We are planning to execute these kind of consultations to all the islands. The Prime Minister stressed the need to actually find out the needs by visiting and having a discussion with the stakeholders, not only in Vava'u but Ha'apai, Niuas and 'Eua so we can have a more focussed approach. We don't have that much resources but at least we know whatever resources we actually have are focussed on priority needs.
KV: How important is it to look at things across the kingdom rather than just Tongatapu?
SS: We believe it is important to look at the nation as a whole. The challenge is that we are here in Tongatapu and they are out there in the outer islands so any opportunity that we actually have we should make the most of it and find out how best we can actually help them.
KV: Is that a change in approach from previous administrations or is this a continuation?
SS: Most probably a continuation but what we'd like to do is actually have it on a more regular basis whereby we can consult, especially like the district officers and the town officers apart from our government ministries out there in the outer islands. We believe that having a more regular discussion and consultation will hopefully better utilise whatever resource we have and clearly identify the needs of the outer islands.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: