9 Jul 2012

Honiara betal nut vendors say removed by armed authorities

1:11 pm on 9 July 2012

Betel nut vendors on the main road through the Solomon Islands capital say city council staff armed with bush knives have removed their stalls and stopped them from doing business.

Honiara is the venue for the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts, a two-week event that has attracted thousands of people from other parts of the country, along with overseas visitors.

A local landowner who allows single mothers to sell betel nut on his property says he has room for 97 stalls.

Stanley Kaipua says he doesn't know if the festival is the reason the council drove many of them away.

"They are armed and come with bush knives into my private area...I don't know what to say. People have to show their culture. If you go to another country they can sell what they want, for example in Vanuatu or Fiji, they sell kava at the main road, while Solomon Islands tries to hide the betel nut - it's part of our culture."

Stanley Kaipua says he is going to take legal action against the council.