On the 14th -15th of January, Tonga recorded a large underwater eruption which rippled across the Southern and Northern Pacific waters.
Vanuatu is located roughly over 1700KM from Tonga and we experienced 2M tsunamis, there were even flashfloods on the northern Pacific coastlines in California.
Needless to say, this was a massive a wake-up call to Vanuatu since we are part of the ring of fire – a 40,000KM horseshoe-shaped belt where numerous volcanoes and earthquakes occur.
Vanuatu has 6 active volcanoes above ground and 3 underwater volcanoes, what happened to Tonga could happen to any country within the ring of fire, only question is, what are we doing about it?
Recently the Director of VMGD was suspended, I believe this decision should also be followed up with some resolutions.
The underwater volcano of Tonga was active and bubbling since last year.
We should have made predictions on what could have followed and advised everyone living along the coastal area to take necessary precautionary message, maybe build a sandbank, and since we are a country made up of basically smaller islands, this information would have been essential for us.
Now with the drastic decision on the suspension of the Director, we need to start being more proactive rather than reacting after something has happened.
If the Director was that bad, why wasn’t he warned in the past and given a disciplinary letter or even suspended before the Tsunami hit?
Why was he entertained till 2022? Seems like they needed a scapegoat to take the fall for everyone’s oversight. A stagnant employee is a reflection of poor leadership – so who exactly should’ve been suspended? Food for thought.
Tonga Assistance – Where is the Vanuatu Government?
Since the eruption, Tonga has received non-stop support from a lot of countries. From Japan flying over 3 tonnes of water with their Self-Defence Forces to our Pacific neighbors Australia and New Zealand offering further assistance.
Even small Polynesian, Micronesian and Melanesian communities in Vanuatu held fundraisers in homes, churches, nakamals, the MSG and in public to raise money for those affected by the eruption in Tonga.
The one that made the headlines was when the Capital’s Mayor gave VT100, 000 to the Tongan Catholic priest for a fundraiser and the Tongan community that raised over VT3 million.
Now there are a lot of unsung heroes who are acting behind the scenes and assisting in their own way, such as the Minister of Trade, but the biggest elephant in the room is the Vanuatu government, and the FAQ is ‘what is the Government doing to assist Tonga?’
Are we planning to send RVS Takuare with some supplies to help the Tongans? Have we reached out to their Prime Minister or the Monarchy of Tonga offering words of encouragement?
Have we worked out an agreement with the telecommunication providers to allow free calls to Tonga so Tongan families in Vanuatu can check on their mums and dads back on the Polynesian island?
The answer is, nothing has been done, or at least nothing we know of.
I tried making a few calls to the Department of Strategic Policy, Planning and Aid Coordination Prime Minister’s Office but there isn’t any such plan to assist.
Police say they can only send RVS Takuare if they are ordered to and no such order has been made.
Tonga was there for us post-Pam, and even if they came with a single bottle of water, the gesture of travelling 1700KM to check on a neighboring country would’ve meant more.
While we may not have a monarchy, we are pretty much sitting high mighty on our end. When we refuse to lift a finger as a country, what message are we telling our Pacific Island neighbors?
Is this our famous Melanesian value on display?