Fest’Napuan was a disaster. On Thursday when the prohibition order was read on stage, the stall owners were left confused, asking each other, “what does that mean for all the food we made? All the kava we mixed? All the time, effort and money we invested into Thursday?”

I stood among the stall owners, observing their disbelief on what was being announced and accompanied them when they went to meet the Fest’Napuan Committee Chairlady, Jennifer Kausei.

They brought their concerns and came up with a resolution which was in a form of compensation.

They wanted VT200,000 each to make up for the loss they made.

Some brought island food from the islands, some hired deep freezers, BBQ stands, roofing irons, they had staff to pay, transportation costs and on top of that one of the stall owners claims she was informed not to buy chicken from the most affordable chicken suppliers in Port Vila.

The neighbouring supermarkets were confused on why their meat wasn’t good enough. A call to Biosecurity later and they denied ever saying anything about not purchasing meat from these supermarkets.

The stall owner was informed of the back-and-forth conversation and wondered why Biosecurity informed her in the first place, which further created more confusion.

Anyway, coming back to the meeting with the Chairlady.

They brought their concerns, shared their hardships and while the chairlady said the situation is beyond their capacities as committee members, surprisingly she blamed the government for only closing Fest’Napuan and not the night clubs.

This was a valid point but in the words of one of the vendors – ‘that’s her issue with the government, not ours.’

The stall owners came to find solutions and were met with someone in a position of responsibility, ironically not accepting any of it.

The Fest’Napuan Committee should have taken ownership of the situation and as the hosts to the stall owners, they should’ve found a reasonable solution to help mediate their concerns.

Not to mention, MP Ralph Regenvanu informed the stall owners that the show will start at 3pm and then they would wait for government’s decision at 5pm on whether or not the festival would continue.

Should the stall owners have made only 10 sausages each and mix only 2 plastics of kava since they would be in suspense for two hours?

Some of the vendors said Fest’Napuan committee should have just postponed the programme to November instead of crossing their fingers and hoping for the best outcome.

They should’ve taken responsibility and ownership of the event.

Now we’re finding out from the Deputy Prime Minister that no permit was applied for to gather at Saralana. Once again, an oversight.

There are a lot of should haves, would haves and could haves that came out of Thursday, but we now we need to move forward.

I hope the vendors are well compensated and I also hope the Fest’Napuan Committee is able to learn from their mistakes and provide better management in the future.

If and when it officially starts up again, I encourage everyone to go and support the vendors and enjoy the festival.

Newsroom Opinion

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