Report from John Brown — Betio, Tarawa

From: John Brown, Betio, Tarawa

Sent: Jun 6, 2005 7:05 PM

Subject: Betio news

Tourists continue to come in including Billy Connelly and Pamela Stephenson on their yacht. Pamela is writing a book about Robert Louis Stephenson and we spent three days together. I have a BBC reporter next week interested in talking to us about the battle for Tourism and Business, so that should be interesting.

Nimitz Foundation approached us to remove the Amtrac on Red 1 but it was too difficult and would probably disintegrate if it was moved. We have put coral gravel around it and cleaned it up. The Higgins boat close to the Amtrac has been cleared of brush and is more accessible, but it is in a sorry state. The right hand side is intact with the cleat for mooring it showing clearly.

We had an Australian ordinance team come through here last November, they collected and blew up 30 tonnes of ordinance. There are still plenty more on Black Beach One and they propose to move a 5” shell lodged in the mount of the gun at the Marine Training Centre by remote control. They will be back.

The Japanese memorial gardens are now open but the Betio Town Council have indicated that they want their land back where the Shinto and Buddist shrines are. The American memorial remains outside the blue fence surrounding the new stadium being built by the Taiwanese. No indication about its future.

Parliament is currently sitting and I understand there is a notice to remove the squatters outside the 8” guns at Takaronga. The Taiwanese have now constructed “Taiwan Park” at the end of Black Beach Two, close to the toll booth. There is a big clean up campaign sponsored by the E.U. through the F.S.P. to remove aluminium cans. Plastic bottles all have a levy of 5c on them, used batteries including ups batteries to be recyled at $5.00. Cardboard paper is baled up and a new plasma cutter has arrived to cut up the motor vehicles. I understand that contributions are flowing in to purchase a 10” wood chipper for the organic material lying around to be shipped and used for mulch or top dressing.

Cheers, John & Molly

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