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Communication CB Radio Project 1996
Work Completed 15th. October 1996
This was Rotary sponsored Project
Society President Iain King and fellow Queensland Police officer - Craig Eliot arrived on Rabi Island on 7th. October, to install an AMCB Radio Communications/Emergency Network on the island.
Another 2 secondhand CB Radios were donated by two members of BRISBUG Computer Users Group
Baomita Ewekia testing the CB Radio on 'Tei Bill' the main Council Boat.
In KEY buildings in each village and Council vehicles and boats. Another CB radio and a hand-held unit were also donated by two members of BRISBUG COMPUTER CLUB. Eight of the radios designated for KEY Buildings were to be powered by 8 - 30 Watt Solar panels and batteries purchased from RESHAPE Pty. Ltd., Australia. The panels and batteries were shipped via sea freight direct to Suva where the Administrators of the Rabi Council of Leaders arranged to ship the goods up to Rabi Island prior to Iain and Craig's arrival. The men had a two week time frame to install the units and train a Banaban - Baomita Ewekia from the Rabi Council who has been put in charge of the overall running and maintenance of the system.
DAY 1 - Saw the installation of 2 radios - The first in the Council 'Pajero' 4x4 Vehicle, and the other at the main Council Office situated at Nuku, Tabwewa village.
DAY 2 - A radio was installed at the Main Police Station at Nuku, Tabwewa village, and a portable CB Radio which had been donated by David Sykes - a BRISBUG COMPUTER CLUB member was given to Kaiea Bakanebo, the O.I.C. Local Rabi Police for use by them when away from their office and vehicle. Another radio was also installed in one of the Council lorries.
DAY 3 - One radio was installed in the main Community Hall in the heart of Uma Village.
DAY 4 - We went to Rabi High School at Tabiang Village, and because of the high location we had to especially design and erect a 20ft. aerial tower we welded out of galvanized water pipe. This extended aerial was still unable to get over the main ridge back to the main Tabwewa village, but allowed communications with the three other villages situated at the southern end of the island and to any vehicle or boat travelling within range.
DAY 5 - We installed another radio this time down in the main Tabiang village located at the most western point of Rabi Island at the local Police Post. This was to give 24 hour access to the village out of the usual School hours.
DAY 6 - We travelled to the most distant village at Buakonikai around the southern tip of the island. We placed another radio at Buakonikai Primary School which is situated in an isolated area away from the main Buakonikai village but closer to Tabiang village.
DAY 7- We fitted another radio to the other Council Lorry and ran into problems when it was discovered that the vehicle operated on a full 24volt system. This radio was also donated by a BRISBUG COMPUTER CLUB member.
DAY 8 - Another 2 radios were fitted this time to the 2 Council Boats -' Tei Bill', and 'Tei Rabi'. The larger boat - 'Tei Bill' had to be fitted with one of the solar panel to power the radio, as the boat didn't run off a battery. The smaller vessel 'Tei Rabi' was set up to run off a battery which is to be purchased by the Council and recharged off Council generators when run down.
DAY 9 - We were requested to fit the last radio right at the very end of Buakonikai village in the Local Police Post. Because of the remote location and the large mountainous inland ridge the reception is limited to communications with the village Primary school, and the High School and village at Tabiang. Further communications to the other villages would have to be relayed via Tabiang village or passing council vehicles or boats, but still gives this remote village communications access. During the rainy season this village is isolated due to the dirt road into the village becoming inaccessible, even with 4 wheel drive vehicles. Now with the radios, they can communicate with the other villages.
The other days were lost through rain and the weekend break. We discovered on the first day when the radio was installed into the Pajero that radio conversations could be heard and picked up as far away as the Kiribati Islands Group around 2,000 klms away across the Pacific. Kaiea Bakanebo, O.I.C. of Rabi Police actually spoke to the people transmitting in Kirbati and was acknowledged.
THE EXPANSION OF THE COMMUNICATION PROJECT FOR THE FUTURE
The Banaban Elders were so impressed with this simple system that they hope in the future to be able to set up direct radio communications with their homeland. Possibly a CODAN system would be the best option and perhaps BRISBUG members could offer advice on this matter. The Australian Government recently donated a CODAN radio to the Banaban Community on the very remote Banaba Island in the Central Pacific, via Stewart Brooks, the Australian High Commissioner in Tarawa. We hope this will see the beginnings of a vital Communication link between the Banaban community living on the remote homeland with their Community living on Rabi Island in the Fiji Group.
MORE KEY BUILDINGS
We would like to see the further extension of this system with the donation of more second hand CB radios, and the Banabans will purchase batteries in Fiji to provide the power for each unit, and they will recharge the batteries when necessary using generators. Ideally the purchase of more solar panels in the future would be the ideal way to power the units. With more radios the Banabans will put radios into each village boat, and other KEY buildings such as Hospital, Primary Schools, and Pre schools etc.
EXPANSION TO VILLAGE BOATS
The success of the two boats already fitted radios became very apparent while there. While the 'Tei Bill' was picking up supplies over at the Fiji mainland at the remote Fijian fishing village of Koroko, the Council Office radioed the boat to wait at Koroko, as another truck was on it's way from Savusavu with more supplies. Not only are the radios going to save them a lot of money in spent fuel, but the safety benefits for their small vessels whilst out to sea is obvious. The radios also allow the boats to keep in touch with other nearby Fijian islands and other larger vessels already at sea.
A fax was received from David Christopher, Executive Director of Rabi Council of Leaders on the 21st. October, to advise us that the CB Radios had already assisted them greatly with several Emergency cases which had already arisen within days of their installation.
Iain King - President, Banaban Heritage Society Inc., 22nd. October, 1996.
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