Vanuatu's transport challenge hinders cyclone Lola recovery

Vanuatu's Cyclone Lola response faces transport roadblocks with the country's patrol boat out of action after it was damaged from twin cyclones Kevin and Judy in March.

The ship, RVS Tachouare, is currently in Australia getting repaired.

Vanuatu Helicopters also sent back its helicopters to Australia last year.

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai admitted that a lack of government transport will hamper its recovery efforts for the provinces hit hard by tropical cyclone Lola.

"Apart from the current patrol, Vanuatu needs a barge that can directly be beached on the islands," Salwai said.

Salwai visited Embrym Island and his constituency of Pentecost Island on Monday, six days after Lola made landfall.

The islands of Torba, Sanma, Penama and Malampa were also badly damaged and are in a state of emergency.

Salwai landed on the two affected islands with a French army helicopter, normally based in New Caledonia.

Salwai said due to limited time they only had two hours to visit the areas between Batnapni and Melsisi, on Pentecost while waiting for the helicopter to move tarpaulins from the western to eastern side of the island.

"The damages caused by Lola is worse than TC Harold in 2020. The food such as taros were badly damaged," he said.

Salwai said Pentecost is the main producer of kava in the country, for both local consumption and international export, but the plants have been damage by Lola.

"Government through the Ministry of Agriculture has to find a ways to help the kava farmers to sell their kava now," the prime minister said.

"If farmers from Santo Santo and the other islands could stop temporarily selling their kava to enable the farmers on Pentecost to make small earning out of their damaged kava plants, it would help them a lot."