25 Apr 2005

Solomons MP warns about sensitivity in land deals

10:19 pm on 25 April 2005

A member of the Solomon Islands parliament and paramount chief, Siriako Usa, has warned companies against striking land deals in Guadalcanal without initial consultations with all tribal landowning groups.

Mr Usa issued the warning following a recent decision by elders of northwest Guadalcanal to revoke an agreement giving rights to Success Company Limited to extract gravel and earth from the Poha river basin.

Mr Usa says any company wishing to involve in development on customary land must not forget that land is a very delicate and sensitive issue on Guadalcanal.

He reminded investors and developers that they must involve as much as possible all landowning parties in their consultations to avoid future disputes.

Meanwhile, the reopening of an Oil Palm Project at the former SIPL site on Guadalcanal is set to get underway this week.

Papua New Guinea company New Britain Palm Oil's local entity, Guadalcanal Plains Oil Palm Limited, is set to commence groundbreaking at the site this Thursday.

This is despite recent reports that some local landowners had yet to agree to the project.

But Fairall Wilfred, a commerce ministry official who has assisted the Guadalcanal landowners association in the negotiation process of this project, says any lingering land issues are between landowners themselves.

Mr Wilfred says most of the landowners are for the project itself, but also want outstanding issues settled between themselves.