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Residents at the western end of the Second Lagoon (Emten) are complaining that massive destruction of an area of natural beauty and a stand of native forestry in their vicinity has been destroyed by huge earth-moving equipment.

The residents say the clearing seems to indicate that large-scale developments are planned. However, there has been no Municipal or Government consultation involving residents in the immediate vicinity. Nor has the intending occupier of the site consulted with the residents, nor have they made themselves known. The developer is required by law to consult with anyone who could be affected for anything other than the building of a single residence.

The residents of the area have written to the Mayor of Port Vila and copied to the relevant government agencies.

Furthermore, after enquiries made by residents, MP Regenvanu and Daily Post, the only lease transfer which Lands could provide dated back nearly 30 years and involves two of Vanuatu’s oldest trust companies holding the property in trust. MP Regenvanu has written to the PVMC in support of the residents’ letter seeking answers to their questions. And he has also spoken to the Chairlady of the Physical Planning Committee about it. Answers are awaited.

The land of two hectares is immediately opposite Pacific Suppliers.

The residents nearby have found that radical clearing of all the original trees and foliage over the entire block, including into the fragile mangrove (natongtong) area, has taken place, right down to the high water mark.

Large amounts of ground from other sites for the purpose of building up the existing ground have been emptied on the site. And the vast number of lorry loads of quarry material down to near the water’s edge increases the height of the foundation of what is to be built (over two metres) considerably.

Residents have asked the Municipality, for a start, whether the approvals and permits have been issued, whether an EIA has been granted, and on what basis.

There have been many worries expressed in the past concerning the delicate mangrove environment at the Second Lagoon and also as regards the possibility of rising sea level and tidal surge. Extending the surface area of run-off, as the builders are surely doing, requires notification of the details of the project to neighbours. Everyone thereabouts, along the seafront and with access to the lagoon water will be affected considerably, residents state.

There were so many problems before when a school on the other side of the road was demolished (Vila City College) for commercial purposes. Three hundred places for school children in the metropolitan area and fast-growing eastern suburbs were lost. Anywhere in the neighbourhood is becoming increasingly valuable, the South Pacific Mini Games only two years away.

Residents feel there should be an immediate stop to the massive works at what was latterly called “Connie’s Art Blong Yumi” until reasons are given to explain why this place can change the status it holds — from being a municipal residential area — to whatever else is planned.

By Bob Makin Sep 16, 2015