The Vanuatu Police Force post on Tongoa Island has received significant upgrades to their radio communication capabilities, allowing for better communications back to Port Vila and surrounding islands in the event of an emergency.
CAPTION: Vanuatu Police Force Inspector Paul Thompson (right) and Sergeant Willie Daniel Obed test their handheld radios at the Tongoa Island Police Post during the Vanuatu Government National Emergency Radio Network project. Story by Captain Taylor Lynch. Photo by Corporal Kieren Whiteley.
The upgrades were carried out by a small contingent of Australian Army signallers and Vanuatu Police Force members as part of the Vanuatu Government National Emergency Radio Network project, who installed and trained Tongoa police officers on both High Frequency (HF) radios and Very High Frequency portable radios.
Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) Senior Sergeant Willie Daniel outlined what the upgrades meant for his small team of police officers living and working on Tongoa.
“This will allow us to contact each other from surrounding areas and islands, which will make us very happy as this communication helps us as we travel to various islands, villages and the beach,” Sergeant Daniel said.
“We haven’t got a lot of personnel here, but setting up the policing systems for the future will mean more police. These HF radios will help future police officers at this post.”
Sergeant Daniel explained why the VPF’s radio network upgrades were so important for Tongoa, particularly during cyclone season or if a serious incident occurs.
“We experience a lot of cyclones, particularly ones where the network systems and mobile phone towers go down, so this communication system will help,” he said.
“Now with the radios, if Vodafone or Digicel towers are destroyed we can still connect with police headquarters and National Disaster Management Office Headquarters in Port Vila via the HF network delivered under the Vanuatu Government National Emergency Radio Network.”
“I often patrol alone, if there’s an accident or I respond to an incident in the village, I’ll be able to call on the radio and receive assistance much faster, whether someone is in danger or a more serious case I was not expecting,” he said.
Sergeant Daniel said he loved his community, being a Tongoa local himself, and was appreciative of the upgrades occurring in his community.
“I’ve been in the police for more than 20 years, I’ve got lots of experience working in the rural areas, I live and work in the community,” Sergeant Daniel said.
“I like living in my community, on my island as a police officer, it allows me to help my people, I love my job and that’s why I’m still here today.”
“We are very proud of these upgrades and thank the ADF for assistance, the work they have done will help the people of Tongoa,” he said.
Delivered by the Australian Defence Force and Vanuatu Police Force over a three-year period under the Vanuatu-Australia Defence Cooperation Program, the Vanuatu Government National Emergency Radio Network is helping increase Vanuatu’s disaster preparedness and response capability, and support an enhanced police presence across the Vanuatu archipelago.
The project complements other initiatives delivered under the Vanuatu-Australia Defence Cooperation Program, which provides ongoing support to the VPF aligned with Vanuatu’s priorities and a framework to further the people-people ties between our security forces.