A concerned man from Temotu Province is calling for the Democratic Coalition for Change (DCC) government to prioritize trade between Temotu and Vanuatu as part of its effort to boost economic development in the rural areas.
Mark Temapi from Reef Island raised his concern to the media last week claiming he is speaking on behalf of Temotu people to bring up this long outstanding issue for the reigning government to fulfil.
He further claimed that the previous government has failed to address their cries.
Temapi said that Temotu people are still waiting with their last hope for the government to allow their province go into trade with their neighbouring Vanuatu.
He said that Honiara is very far compared to Villa where it will just take about 24 hours by ship to travel.
“We want to sell our market product with Vanuatu where its closer to us,” he said. “We can’t travel long distance to Honiara, it is expensive and also unprofitable for us who lives permanently at our home village seeking cash to support our children in school, and afford other basic needs and wants,” he said.
He further stated that the government vision reflects in its policy statement to improve quality of life in the rural areas must start on trade negotiation with Vanuatu for the case of our Temotu province.
“Temotu and Vanuatu are related culturally and in our history our ancestors use to trade with them and inter marriages which connect our relationship with Vanuatu,” he said.
“In the pre-Christian era we travel regularly to Vanuatu to strengthen our relationship in trade, culture and families but all of the sudden western politics came and separate us from our Vanuatu people,” he added.
He said their call for the national government to help and allow them trade with Vanuatu is purposely to ease economic burdens of seeking cash to support their remote islands.
“We will always remain a province to Solomon Islands and we will never give in to secede from Solomon Islands, all we need is for the DCC government to allow us trade with Vanuatu so that our life in seeking cash would be easy as well,” he said.
“Most of us work in Honiara is very far from home and even we don’t see our relatives when they pass away because of the distance and difficulty in terms of transport and money to travel back home to visit our dead loved ones,” he said.
He said that access of trade with Vanuatu will benefit Solomon Islands generally, in terms of generating more income into the country since Vanuatu currency (Vatu) has the same value to the US dollar that will make a big impact to our economy to grow.
He said that Temotu people only need the upper hand of DCC government for their long waited dream to trade with Vanuatu.
He said that their lives in the past 20 years remains the same today, which they strongly believe that only if they trade with Vanuatu, it will makes a big difference to their living, in terms of accessing cash and quality health, education and other social services.
“DCC advocate more about changing the living to a better life, interpreted by Temotu people as facilitating trade activities between our Province and Vanuatu,” he said. “This is how we perceive and interprets the most needed changes that DCC is preaching about,” Temapi added.
“Now we are looking forward for our Provincial government to dialogue with DCC and the outcome their meeting is expected a positive result that favours our cries to trade with Vanuatu as the only way to boost economic development not only for Temotu province but the country as a whole,” he said.
“He said if the government continues to turn deaf ears to our cries then this will be a different story for us Temotu people,” he further stated.
He said that the changes that our government is reiterating on has to start with Temotu/Vanuatu trade activities.
By AATAI JOHN