Vanuatu MP welcomes Luganville wharf renovation
An MP in Vanuatu's second main town of Luganville has welcomed the government's decision to renovate the wharf, bolstering the status of the island Santo as a regional economic hub.
A newly renovated wharf is to open in Vanuatu's second major town, Luganville.
As the capital of Vanuatu's biggest island, Luganville is an important agriculture hub and a place of increasing tourism focus.
But there's a feeling that development on Santo has long been overlooked by the efforts of governments in favour of the national capital Port Vila and its island Efate.
Kalfau Moli is a Luganville MP, outspoken on the need for more resources to be allocated to Santo.
He told Johnny Blades that the wharf renovation has been a long time coming.
KALFAU MOLI: The negotiation has gone on for almost seven years, which I was an initial part of. Now it has got to this stage and I thank the Vanuatu government, especially the Prime Minister [Joe Natuman] for pledging his support for the extension of the wharf. It's going to be an extension of three-hundred metres which will mean that it's going to enable ships to have less time to... the turnaround time will be easier and you can dock in two cruise ships at the same time. That is about the wharf - it has nothing to do with the concession agreement that coves the operator of the wharf which is currently news, and that is another decision which the government will consider. But I thank the government that it has finally accepted that Luganville is the current economic hub of Vanuatu.
JOHNNY BLADES: When you say economic hub, are you talking about agriculture or tourism, or both?
KM: I'm talking about both. And at the moment, when cruise ships come in, all the other cruise ships cannot dock in. So [with the wharf renovation] you can have a cruise ship and a copra boat in action simultaneously, so that's good.
JB: Santo is beautiful and I guess a lot more needs to be done though to spread the word to get more tourists there. Is it growing, is it going in the right direction?
KM: Well, it's going in the right direction. Unfortunately, our domestic airline is not competitive enough. we would like to see more regional airlines come in to be players. At the moment for example in Santo we have a Brisbane flight on Tuesday and yeah, I think only Tuesday.
JB: There's a new code sharing agreement, isn't there, (for Air Vanuatu) with (airlines of) PNG and Solomons?
KM: Yes, and we need more of that. The wharf is by far one of the biggest developments which Luganville or the north of the country has witnessed for over 35 years. So it is good for all of us but the other issue we have is to make sure that the wharf is promoted as a hub because it's more cheaper to offload a container, store a container in Luganville than Kieta and Honiara, if you are on a route down to the US, then it's cheaper.
JB: Will you see a bit of an impact on some local businesses from the renovation of this wharf?
KM: Not only an impact. There's going to be a tremendous turnaround in everything.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: