THE THIRD TRIP for the Right To Information (RTI) public consultation tour came to end on Friday 8th on the island of Malekula. The public consultation program was spearheaded by Transparency International Vanuatu alongside the Right To Information Unit from the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO).
The team arrived on the island of Malekula on Saturday the 3rd and headed for accommodation at Lakatoro. After months of dry weather and dusty roads Malekula had finally began to turn back to its original green, thanks to the rain that had been pouring down regularly over the past couple of days.
On Sunday the 4th the team prepared to depart for consultation with the community of Wallarano, the Transparency International Vanuatu Team made headway for Wallarano at 9 o’clock that morning.
Initial arrangements had scheduled that the team arrive there at 10 o’clock, just in time for the Sunday Service to end so that the people can gather together at the church hall, for the RTI awareness, before they went home to have their lunch.
The RTI awareness session run just above an hour and a half, after which the villagers asked questions while some wrote down their thoughts on a two meter long brown paper that was placed at the front of the hall.
A village elder, in a white buttoned shirt with navy blue jeans, voiced that “to stop corruption this (RTI) Bill must pass because I want to know the work of MP’s. 36 years have passed in this country that has had too many corruption issues, this thing (corruption) must stop. This (RTI) Bill must pass, I support it.”
“Yes, the Right To Information will help the grassroots people to access the exact information that they want” stressed a stout villager in his early thirties, “it is for the grassroots to get the right information and to avoid corruption” he emphasized.
The rain had continued to pour heavily throughout the day with strong winds while the RTI consultation session run on undisturbed inside the church hall. Given the abundant amount of wind and rain predictions of a potential depression somewhere near showed concern on the faces of several elders from the village.
After the Wallarano RTI session the team returned back to Lakatoro where they were staying until they returned to Port Vila on Sunday the 10th.
Over the course of one week the team visited the communities of Unmet, Matanvat, Brenwei, Pinalum, Atchin, Walarano, including Rensarie College, Lakatoro Junior Secondary School, Amelvet Secondary School, Lakatoro Market House, Norsup College, Norsup Hospital, and Tautu. A Public Forum was also held at the Wilkins Stadiuim Conference room where public servants attended to learn more on the Rigth To Information.
At Pinalum the chief there thanked the team for visiting them, “thank you for coming to do this awareness. The Right to information is a good thing. If we have the right to access information then we can be mo certain when and proactive when we question politicians who come and campaign during elections in our community” he said.
The last location to visit was the community of Brenwei at North West Malekula. The team visited the secondary school there to talk with the teachers and the students. “The RTI must pass so that we can know information about any projects in our school and community” stated a student while another wrote down on paper that the Right To Information Law would be very helpful because “all the high offices will respect any group age to pass the information asked.”
At those places that were visited the TIV officers distributed over 500 Vanuatu Constitution books that were translated into Bislama.
The Right To Information Policy was launched by the government in early 2014, thereby forming the basis for the Right To Information Bill to be developed. The RTI Bill was listed to be debated in Parliament in late 2014 but was withdrawn for further revisions.