Demonstrating Their Concern
Some of the longest serving politicians have banded together to organise a gathering to show their concern over the Government’s handling of the flights to Niue. In the latest move to try and control the virus from getting to the island, the flight on Friday 27 has now been cancelled. The next flight is now scheduled for Monday 6 April.
Assembly members O’love Jacobsen, Terry Coe, Stanley Kalauni and Vaaiga Tukuitoga led a group of some 30 or so demonstrators who had gathered at Hanan Airport to show their concern at what they perceive to be a lack of a coherent policy with regard to controlling the island’s borders.
In addressing the small gathering Terry Coe said that the island needs a better plan than at present. “We need better communication, not last minute communication as what they are doing now. We need to get our people back so that will reduce some of the worry”, he said.
Former High Commissioner to NZ and now a leading member of the opposition Mrs O’love Jacobsen said that the main reason for organising the demonstration is to show the government that there are people who strongly support the call to close the borders to all travellers.
“…even though the flight on Friday has been stopped, there could be flight on Monday. There is no reassurance that the borders of Niue are closed. It is people who bring the virus. The risk is far too high given the size of the total population”.
Mrs Jacobsen said that the plane could still come for essential supplies only but no passengers. She said that while she understands the anxiety of those who want to return but she asked, in reference to the Friday flight, “Could this be the flight that would bring the virus to this country? We are not prepared to take that risk”, she concluded.
Both Vaaiga Tukuitoga and Stan Kalauni expressed similar sentiments in calling for the government to close the borders and only allow essential supplies.
The staff of Niue Foou Hospital were singled out for special mention for dedication and commitment in trying to stop the virus.
Meantime in a message delivered on national radio in the late afternoon yesterday the Ministers Billy Talagi and Dalton Tagelagi in joint broadcast said that the decision to cancel the flight was made after careful consideration of all the different factors at play. Discussions are now underway with Air New Zealand to operate a flight on Monday 6 April. This will allow time to consolidate all supplies that are considered essential for the coming days. Local residents, some of whom are students who are waiting to come home will return on that flight. Anyone needing to return to the mainland can also travel on this flight. While the flight still has to be confirmed, the window is narrowing each day and this may well be the last flight for some time.
Both Ministers urged the community to stay calm and to keep an eye on each other.