If there was an issue that can make or break a political party in this year’s national election, it would be the issue of sale of a portion of Fresh Water Park to a Korean businessman and also the sale of the whole of Fresh Water Park to settle a 12 million debt the Vanuatu Government owes to a National Housing Cooperation client.
On the 19th of August 2014, the then Minister of Lands Ralph Regenvanu responsible for housing, Deputy Prime Minister Ham Lini, Minister of Finance Maki Simelum, Mayor of Port Vila Town, Former Chairman of the National Housing Corporation, Chairpersons of the Free Design House Co. Ltd and GRD Holdings Vanuatu Ltd launched the Housing project at Freshwater Park.
At that time, the ready-made homes were assembled and launched, the part of Fresh Water Park where the homes were located still belongs to the National Housing Cooperation and so everyone thought.
The Korean businessman who came in with the homes did not know at the time that the particular plot of land where he is located has certain legal issues attached to it still.
A deal by the National Housing Cooperation with a client for land which now forms part of the FreshWater Park went wrong and the client made a claim against the NHC for damages as the clients have paid and already started development on that land when the NHC stepped in and stopped them as the NHC did not sort out certain legal issues concerning other parties for the same land.
The NHC clients claimed for damages and saw the Supreme Court award the claimants VT17 million and also placed Fresh Water Park on an Enforcement Warrant which allows the Supreme Court to seize the park and sell it anytime the Vanuatu Government does not settle the amount.
GJP President Ralph Regenvanu was Minister of Lands at the time this issue escalated over Fresh Water Park.
When the Supreme Court awarded the 17 million in damages to the claimants, the National Housing Cooperation did not have the money to compensate the claimants, so the NHC Board asked the Korean who was using the space at Fresh Water Park for the Housing program to settle the amount for them in exchange they will give him the lease to that portion of Park where he is currently situated.
The Korean paid nearly close to 5 million as agreed between him and the NHC and the then Minister for Lands Ralph Regenvanu and later strengthen the agreement through a signed agreement with GJP member of parliament, Alfred Maoh who during a reshuffle took over as lands Minister from Ralph Regenvanu.
The payments by the Korean were to be made direct to the Claimants by the Korean, and it was agreed to be made in 3 separate installments.
The Korean who is paying debt on behalf of the Vanuatu Government to a claimant provided YTS proof through documents where agreements were made and he told YTS News that “as he was ready to complete the other installments, the Ministry of Lands suddenly changed their minds and said they will buy the rest of the amount themselves”
To date, not one payment has been made by the Ministry of Lands to the claimants.
The Korean has paid off nearly 5 million already on behalf of the Vanuatu Government, and the area he is on at Fresh Water was valued by the Ministry of Lands and they provided the valuation to the Korean as well.
VT12 Million to the other claimant remains to be settled by the Vanuatu Government and the Claimant has an Enforcement Warrant to seize Fresh Water Park at any time and sell it off to settle the debts.
Ralph Regenvanu did say in a discussion on YTS, that “the Korean will never get the lease to that portion of Park he is settled in at the moment”
The Korean told YTS News he has already made payments as per the agreements signed by him and the Minister of Lands Alfred Maoh but the Vanuatu Government has not honored their arrangments and has not released the lease to that part of the Park where he is currently situated.
Ralph Regenvanu will be campaigning at Fresh Water Park on the 14th and he has said he will clear the issues surrounding the Park.
Regenvanu claims GJP saved Fresh Water Park from being sold but according to Justin Ngwele from Indigene lawyers, representing the claimants, Fresh Water Park is not safe till the Vanuatu Government pays off 12 million owed to their clients.
GJP claim that without them the whole FreshWater Park would have already been sold, however, not one political party has sold the Park yet.
Fresh Water Park, under GJP now has an Enforcement Order to be sold off to settle debts owed to NHC clients and also must now issue a lease to the Korean who has been settling debts on behalf of the Vanuatu Government.
The Korean has pledged to take the Vanuatu Government to Court before the Elections on the 19th of March 2020.