Drivers cautioned about potential traffic snarls anticipated during the Pacific Islands Forum

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press
September 1, 2016
Pohnpei, FSM—Two weeks ago, sirens blared and traffic was diverted as Pohnpei State and National police escorted 16 “state” cars to various locations on the island.
The motorcades coincided with the first ever visit of a Naval vessel from India to the FSM. The lack of information from officials regarding the visit from India and about the police escorted state cars caused many people to think that the motorcades were somehow related to the Indian visit. They were not related.
The escorted vehicles were part of police preparations and training for the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) that will take place during the week of September 5. On the 7th of November, 16 heads of state from the Pacific Region will take part in the PIF that will be held at the College of Micronesia- China Friendship gym and at the FSM Congress chambers. The theme for this year’s annual forum is “Small and Far: Challenges for Growth”.
On the day following the meeting, leaders from countries that are not a part of the PIF nations will hold a “post dialogue” meeting.
The State and National Police are charged with transporting and escorting the heads of state that will be visiting for the important annual meetings. The flow of traffic is apparently so important that classes in schools in the areas that might impact traffic have been cancelled for the duration of the meetings.

If the two day exercise of two weeks ago is any indication, Pohnpei drivers won’t know exactly what to do when faced with an oncoming convoy of high level leaders in large black cars accompanied by a large number of police vehicles.
Don’t feel too badly. We weren’t able to find any answers either, but do be careful.
We sought police advice on what drivers should expect during the PIF but in both the National and State police departments, the authority to answer questions on the matter was placed in a single hand for each department. Only one of those police sources responded to our requests for an interview on what to expect but then missed the appointment. The other never responded at all despite repeated messages for over a week.
Without a definitive answer from police about what drivers should expect we can only say that drivers should be attentive during the PIF and listen for sirens or honking horns that might indicate an approaching motorcade. Give right of way by pulling to the side of the road as soon as you hear them and let the motorcade pass.
Keep your stereo speakers down so that you can hear police sirens and don’t assume the motorcade will be driving in their correct lane. That seems like common sense but it might not be for some motorists in Pohnpei who do not drive defensively with an ear and an eye out for possibly life endangering impediments.
Drivers may encounter motorcades at any point during the Pacific Islands Forum and no information has been forthcoming about whether or not there will be any road closures.
The PIF organizing committee initially projected 500-600 visitors to Pohnpei. They currently project only 250-300 visitors, less than 1 percent of Pohnpei’s population.