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Posted by Terikano Takesau on August 9, 2009 at 9:59pm

NEW COMMUNICATIONS FOR RABI: Vodafone is currently working on the establishment of a reception tower to cater for its services on the island and other nearby areas. The island was recently overshadowed by helicopters carrying equipment and workers to the highest peak which is to be the site and left the Banaban community on Rabi island in awe bringing many from as far as Buakonikai village to watch the choppers overhead causing many to have a stiff neck and locked jaw the next day. This is a major milestone in terms of communication between those on the island and overseas or in other parts of Fiji who are longing to enjoy the tranquility of Rabi.

UPGRADE OF COMMUNITY HEALTH RABI: The other development in terms of health was the visitation of the health inspector to Rabi for the past week who will be present for another two weeks to do a routine inspection of all villages, stores and make a profile for all communities. The first week brought a shock to many who have had to run around cleaning up in haste for fear of being summoned. Legal notices were and are being issued to all those who failed to comply with health standards in terms of housing, sanitation and animal raising. Many dwellings were noted to be poorly maintained as far back as the phosphate money led to their establishment. As far as cleanliness is concerned Rabi lags behind many other communities. In advocating for health the health inspector sat in a Rabi Health Centre Board of Visitors meeting on the 6th of August to appeal for the need of a health inspector and advocate for change in terms of health to raise the standard of living on the island since some of the Board members were also part of village health committees. This is a good move by the Ministry of Health as it advocates for cleanliness in light of boosting tourism now that there are visiting cruise ships such as the Tui Tai and the Blue Lagoon Cruises making stops to enjoy the festivities on the island.

The Rabi Health Centre Board of Visitors acts on behalf of the Banaban community on the island to assist and see that the health interests of the people are served. They were appointed in March this year by the current Acting Senior Medical Officer on Rabi, Dr. Sam Fullman, and are as follows:
Mr. Tamba Reiati-Board Chairman (Uma), Ms. Helen Rota-Secretary (Buakonikai), Mr. Aretana Kabure-Treasurer (Tabiang), Ms. Terikano Takesau (Tabwewa), Mrs. Tawa Boris (Uma), Mr. Rui Mauteti (Buakonikai), Mr. Frank Atera (Tabiang). The eighth member is the medical officer himself.

RABI KAVA (YAQONA) DEVELOPMENT NOW (TAX-FREE ZONE): In as far as Rabi is concerned its well known reputation for yaqona is thriving keeping many busy in the plantation and also keeping some at bay at home knocked out till midday due to its potent effects lingering from the previous night's kava session. Full utilisation of marketing of Rabi kava is not at its peak and should be done to maximise the income generating capacity of the island now that it is has been declared a Tax-Free zone by the government of the day and with its "Go North" policy Rabi can definitely benefit from this initiative.

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Whilst I thank Terikano for the update of mentioned events from the island (Rabi) I wish to shed more light for the sake of our (Banaban) reading public on related issues with the news items which she has NOT provided – balanced reporting.


NEW COMMUNICATION FOR RABI - VODAFONE TOWER

Of cause it is always a bright development to have better communications for the island but there is also a very dull and negative side of this story that is very much in our (Banabans) interest.

The lease contract is rumored to have been signed on our (Banabans) behalf for a mere Seven hundred dollars ($700.00) a year for a lease period of next 99 years. Was the figure of $700.00 the appropriate value for the land being leased for commercial purposes by Vodafone? Who was the qualified advisor (registered valuer) to our signatories (past Chairman Councilor Teatu) when he signed this lease contract.

If it was just ED Molly who was Cr Teatu’s advisor in the signing of the Vodafone lease then our chance of deriving maximum benefits from the deal as landowners is very slim if not none at all. The ED would not have a clue as to the technicalities of lease contracts etc etc.

Sub-leasing space on the tower is a very likely occurrence and the opportunity will be not be easily passed by TV and FM radio. Will these additional benefits solely be the company’s or are they going to be shared.

With all those issue raised, now that the lease contract has already been signed and sealed, do we have a way out of it – is there a window for us to exit the contract say after 5 / 10 years (through something we realize later as disadvantageous to us)? Usually in such legal documents there is this very important Clause(s) called the exit clause which both parties could invoke to opt out of the deal.

It seems that our naïve and ignorant former Chairman - Councilor did not learn the lesson of the BPC Phosphate Sale as well as the more recent Rabi Feeders (Fishing) Co. Ltd. Our ancestors could be forgiven when they put an X against their names to give away our Banaban phosphate for the few shillings/pennies coins.

Then only recently (in late eighties early nineties) our Councilors again signed another contract with one Mr Ian Chute’s Feeders company to purchase / construct our infamous fishing vessel Rabi Feeders. The same fishing boat was disposed of by our former Chairman Cr Teatu by surrendering the same to the FDB who managed to auctioned our Rabi Feeders for a mere $15,000.00 against the RCL owned company’s debt balance of $460,000.00. RCL would soon be listed with the credit bureau as one of those still owing and having a bad debt.


UPGRADE OF COMMUNITY HEALTH - RABI HOSPITAL BOARD OF VISITORS

The positive activities/plans of the current Board should be lauded, however, I still languish in the previous Board’s efforts in bringing home to Rabi the current/previous ambulance (somebody please tell us where it has disappeared to) which was more of a white elephant than any productive. My question was why the ambulance when we could have negotiated / exchanged it for a more durable 4X4 utility vehicle that could have easily reached Matuku and Eritabeta. I am sure the Ministry of Health would have been very delighted to exchange the state-of-the-art medical vehicle (ambulance) for a 4X4 utility truck which would have benefitted our people on the island more. Perhaps the past Board still pride in their mostly idle ambulance providing the ‘transporte royale’ for the Tui Cakau en’route to his opening one of our recent 15th December Anniversary celebrations.


RABI KAVA.

We are proud of the yaqona / kava produced from Rabi being among the top quality drinks for late night revelers, although having negative impacts on our female population both on Rabi and other areas. Kava / yaqona drinking used to be a solely male activity but has recently been adopted by female Banabans as a common social activity.

The RCL commercial entity is a direct opposite of its namesake. Its books are rife with management / directors cash advances running into four figure sums that rightly should have been circulated / distributed to the farmers on the island.


So it is not just bright and glamour on the island, as updated for us by Teri, but there are also the negative and depressing aspects of these developments which could have been prevented by our so called leaders unfortunately – many of whom are still in office and waiting their next opportunity to make, not only bad but poor decisions which have significant impacts on us and our future generations.

We trust in our motto “Atuara Buokara” meaning Our God Our Help and our new Chairman and his team’s intervention could be the God-sent Help our Banaban people have been longing for. FICAC’s visit eventually to peruse our RCL accounts would only reinforce our God’s promised help for our tired(of being exploited) and drained (of most of their resources … but surely not its will) Banabans.

Ti na tekeraoi te reeti ni I-Banaba.

DJ.

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