6 April 2020
Widespread flooding raises concerns over livelihoods and food security.
Tropical Cyclone Harold has left the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu is now braised for what has developed into a monster storm with reports already reaching authorities of widespread flooding having occurred across the country and in parts of Port Vila, the capital.
In the Solomon Islands there are growing concerns over food security after Cyclone Harold flooded and washed away many of the food gardens in the Guadalcanal Plains.
The director of the local national disaster office, Loti Yates, has confirmed that much of the plains are under water after days of torrential rain, and several villages have lost their food source.
Mr Yates is reported by the Solomon Star newspaper, today, has having said assessments are still being carried out and the full extent of the damage should emerge by Tuesday this week.
Many of the communities in the Guadalcanal Plains grow produce to sell in Honiara and are wholly reliant on the returns to support themselves and their families.
Amidst the concerns about coronavirus, the latest challenges to lives and food security come as a huge setback to the people and will add to the governments pre-occupation with health and livelihood issues.
Sources: Solomon Star News and Radio New Zealand bulletins.
LATEST NEWS: Five bodies found during search for missing people from the MV Taimareho
“Five bodies have been discovered includes three female and two male. Three of the bodies have been identified but not the other two.
“The bodies were discovered by Auki Police
“Arrangements are underway to send a doctor and RSIPF Forensic officers to assist in the identification of the bodies.”
Copyright @ 2020, Solomon Star News.
Search continues for 27 missing from ferry in Solomon Islands
Quoting Radio New Zealand – 5 April 2020
“Two bodies have been recovered from the sea near Malaita in Solomon Islands as the search continues for 27 people who were swept overboard from an inter-island ferry.
“The MV Taimareho set sail from the capital, Honiara, bound for Malaita late on Thursday night, laden with more than 700 passengers and cargo.
“It set sail in strong winds that were buffeting Honiara Harbour, with Cyclone Harold - then a category two storm - just to the south.
“The Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, released a statement, saying he was saddened to hear of the "tragic incident.
“An investigation into the incident has begun.”
Copyright @2020, Radio New Zealand.
Cyclone Harold likely to hit Vanuatu as category 5
Quoting Radio New Zealand – 5 April 2020
“Vanuatu is bracing for a direct hit from the still intensifying Cyclone Harold, which is forecast to pass straight over the central islands, forcing the country to contend with dual emergencies.
“Harold, a category four storm, was sitting off the country's west and continuing to strengthen on Sunday afternoon.
“On its current track, Harold is forecast to pass directly over the islands of Malekula and Ambrym late on Monday as a powerful and destructive category five storm - the highest category there is - with winds near its centre in excess of 200km/h.
“On Sunday, reports from islands in Vanuatu's west - including Santo, the country's largest - indicated that damage had already been done, with people forced to flee villages or find higher ground.
“Vanuatu has been in a state of emergency for weeks, with the country in effective lockdown. The border has been closed, and people have been ordered to stay home with gatherings of more than five people banned.
“But that could prove difficult to maintain if the cyclone is as destructive as feared, with people likely to be forced to move from village-to-village, and others forced to congregate in mass evacuation centres that are already opening across the central provinces.”
Copyright @ 2020, Radio New Zealand.
5 April 2020
Stimulus measures to boost the economy now but thoughts on future business operations and practices
In the Solomon Islands I believe the Prime Minister and the Cabinet will be working on a package of stimulus measures to try and mitigate the impact that the coronavirus threat has had on the national economy and the lives of Solomon Islanders, despite the fact, and thankfully, coronavirus has so far been kept at bay.
The measures the government will take will be announced soon, I suspect, but will probably be in line with the kind of stimulus actions taken in Samoa and Vanuatu in recent weeks.
The Chairman of the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) Mr. Jay Bartlett has predicted hard times ahead for business and my own feeling is there will be an economic contraction this year arising from coronavirus concerns and the preventative measures and restrictions already in place.
In the wider context of economic and social challenge facing the world, the impact on business, as we know it, will be profound. How will companies navigate through the still developing crises, ensuring business continuity, saving jobs and securing talent when the window of recovery opens again?
In the Solomon Islands, the Heritage Park Hotel has had to lay off some 80 to 100 local workers occasioned by cancelled reservations and the temporary end to visitor arrivals.
In Australia Qantas has laid off staff and grounded much of its air fleet. In the United Kingdom British Airways is deciding, today, whether to lay off more than 35,000 of its staff, having grounded 80 percent of its aircraft.
Solomon Airways has also seen its international services ended for now and staff put on leave.
In countries like, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and in China, important adjustments have had to be made to work arrangements for companies that remain open and home based working led to the use of flexible technology platforms enabling staff to work remotely and safely.
The COVID-19 crisis was impossible to predict with conventional wisdom and forecasting and, whatever the Solomon Islands government decides to include in its stimulus package, I believe it should help business tide over the short-term challenges, while companies should assess how they may best serve their individual circumstances.
I will end however, by posing the question whether the technology now brought into greater use today, becomes the norm business will be conducted in the future when the coronavirus pandemic is no longer a threat to the world and global business operations?
Fewer employees, fewer offices, cost savings on office and building maintenance, electricity water, telephones, travel expenses - and with faster communications and video conferencing, to name but a few of the cost reductions and advantages in business operations with the greater use of technology.