17 Jul 2007

Solomon Islands government suspends license for RIPEL

10:15 am on 17 July 2007

The Solomon Islands government has suspended the business license operation of Russell Islands Plantations Estate Limited, or RIPEL.

The Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told the SIBC the action was based on humanitarian grounds.

He says the closure of one of the largest coconut and cocoa plantations in this part of the Pacific region, was a humanitarian crises.

Mr Sogavare says hundreds of former employees and their families were in a chaotic state of confusion and deplorable suffering.

He says since they were no longer employed, many families have to scavenge for food and their survival.

He says the government cannot watch the company management and the trade unions stand-off, which had resulted in the closing down of operations.

He says the stand-off had resulted in large consignments of copra from the Russell Islands being confiscated, and payments held up in Honiara because of a court injunction sought by the company.

Mr Sogavare says this has further disadvantaged farmers there.