12 Jul 2012

Honiara council defends eviction of betelnut vendors in Solomons capital

5:25 am on 12 July 2012

The deputy mayor of Honiara, Eric Tema, is defending the city council's eviction of betelnut vendors from private property and denying the involvement of bush knives.

Solomon Islands is hosting the 11th Festival of Pacific Arts, a two-week event that has drawn tens of thousands of people from other parts of the country to the capital and finishes tomorrow.

A local landowner, Stanley Kaipua, alleges that council staff used machetes to harrass women away from their stalls on his property and says he is taking the council to court over the matter.

However Mr Tema says the council was acting in accordance with bylaws and the main reason the women were stopped from doing business was the proximity of their stalls to the road.

"They face the festival, so it might people should not use that place, and when people do eat betelnut it creates a lot of mess and it leaves a lot of rubbish and that's the reason why we have to evict that place."

Eric Tema says council law enforcers are not authorised to use bush knives and he thinks Stanley Kaipua is trying to discredit the council.