Friday, July 30, 2010

Makira officers want their allowances now

Friday, 30 July 2010 10:23

KIRAKIRA police have expressed disappointment over non-responses to their request for touring allowances from their headquarters in Honiara.

Provincial Police Commander Fred Saeni said they are concerned their headquarters in Honiara did not respond to their request for the election money allocated for Makira police to be deposited to the accounts of Makira Electoral Office.

Mr Saeni said the money, allocated specifically for police duties in Makira, been channelled from the Electoral Commission Office to the Police Commissioner’s Office.

“We have raised our concerns to police headquarters regarding this payment but they have not given us a definite answer,” he said.

“They did not say whether the money will be sent to us through Makira Electoral Office or whether our officers would be paid their touring allowances at all before their deployment.”

Mr Saeni said his officers were hoping to get their touring allowances before being deployed oto their respective polling stations because they need this money to support them while out there in the remote areas.

“It is not always easy carrying food rations especially for officers deployed in the interior regions up in the mountains where they have to walk and so it is better they carry only cash to buy from the villagers up in the hills or along the remote coasts,” he said.

He further stressed that his officers were adamant to get their allowances now as they do not want a repeat of their experience in the 2006 elections.

“In 2006 my officers have worked hard to maintain peace throughout the province but they were never remunerated by police headquarters in Honiara until this day,” Mr Saeni said.

He added: “Those serving here are only low ranking officers who have had to undertake strenuous tasks under very extreme circumstances given the nature of work in rural areas and they deserve recognition by those senior officers in Honiara for their commitment to national obligations such as national elections”.

Despite the situation, Mr Saeni said his officers are fully prepared for their deployment which is expected this week.

“Whether we are paid our allowances or not the deployment of officers will continue as scheduled because we have a duty to this nation and its people,” he said.

He added his officers want their allowance sent via the Makira Electoral Office because they feared that they might not receive their allowances again if the funds remain in Honiara.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Secretary of Makira Province, Commines Ikioa has assured the officers that he would take up their concerns with the Electoral Commissions Office in Honiara.

By GEORGE SIAPU in Kirakira


New shipping scheme to remote areas here

Friday, 30 July 2010 08:28

FIVE franchise routes have been awarded to three ship operators, allowing the first scheduled voyages of ships to remote areas of Solomon Islands, under the Domestic Maritime Support Project.

The franchise shipping scheme is a key component of the project, which enables private sector ship operators to provide services to remote, commercially unviable destinations.

Co-financed by the European Union, the Asian Development Bank, and the Solomon Islands Government, the Domestic Maritime Support Project aims to spur rural development and provide economically disadvantaged people with greater access to markets and services.

The project also aims to improve safety, reliability, and frequency of interisland shipping services, and promote the growth of rural production.

Remote areas which will be serviced under the project include: Temotu outer islands, Ontong Java & Dai Island, Ulawa and Sikaiana, the Shortland Islands, Makira and the weather coast. The voyages begin in early August 2010.

Direct benefits of the project include more frequent and reliable shipping services at lower cost.

Increased agriculture production and better terms of trade for rural areas are also expected.

The main beneficiaries of the project will be people in the poorest parts of Solomon Islands.

The local economy is reliant on agriculture, fishing, and forestry.

Production generally takes place in remote rural areas with poor access to transportation services.

Many areas lack suitable maritime infrastructure and do not receive regular shipping services.

Revitalisation of the rural economy is a key strategy in reducing poverty in Solomon Islands.

The project is being implemented over 10 years.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Legal training for landowners continues in Makira

Thursday, 22 July 2010 08:18

THE Landowners’ Advocacy and Legal Support Unit (LALSU) in the Public Solicitor’s Office is continuing on its schedule of legal awareness workshops, having just returned from Makira Province.

About 25 landowners and community representatives from all over Makira joined the LALSU team in Kira Kira last week to attend legal training on many different topics including forestry, conservation, mining, climate change and the laws on reefs and foreshores.

Presenters from the Public Solicitor’s Office included Jacob Kinai who runs the LALSU, George Gray, Senior Legal Officer and Elaine Johnson, Volunteer Legal Officer.

Other guest presenters were from the Ministry of Lands, Forestry, Law Reform Commission and local community groups.

“The training covered laws affecting the legal rights of resource owners, including forestry, mining and environmental impact assessment,” Mr Kinai said.

“The participants were very interested in training on mining laws and environmental impact assessment, as customary land in Makira is already subject to mineral prospecting.

“Therefore, it is really important that the landowners understand the laws that affect their rights when it comes to mining,” he said.

Mr Kinai said that every mining operation must go through an environmental impact assessment with the Ministry of Environment, access rights must be negotiated with landowners, and a mining lease must be granted, before it can go ahead.

During the workshop, participants also shared their own experiences with logging in the past, and plans for conservation in Makira Province for the future.

“While much of Makira has already been logged, we were interested to hear from some landowners in Makira who are forming community-based organisations or associations and working to protect and sustainably manage those resources that are left,” says Ms Johnson of LALSU.

“It is encouraging to see communities organise themselves to help make better decisions about their resources for the future.

“It’s our job as lawyers to help communities use the law to achieve those outcomes,” Ms Johnson said.

The Public Solicitor’s Office is based in Honiara, with offices in Gizo and Auki, and has been providing free independent legal aid to the most disadvantaged people in the Solomon Islands for decades.

The LALSU is a new unit within the PSO that provides legal assistance to landowners on forestry and conservation issues.

“As well as the training on environmental laws, we took the workshop participants through basic legal concepts like criminal and civil law, contracts, forming associations and registering customary interests in land,” Mr Gray said.

“Currently there is no PSO office in Kira Kira, so for many participants this was a good opportunity to talk to lawyers about issues affecting their own resources,” he said.

During the training, the LALSU also provided free independent legal advice to landowners through a legal clinic which was open to the public.

Recently, the LALSU was also in Buala, Isabel Province, talking to landowners from San Jorge to Buala, and from Buala to Bolitei.

Currently the team is planning their next trip to Temotu Province which will take place in August, followed by Auki in Malaita Province in September.

The LALSU ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) is supported by the European Union through its Sustainable Forestry project and the volunteer post is supported by Ausaid.


We thrive on money from illegal logging

Wednesday, 21 July 2010 09:39

IF there’s one country that thrives on revenue received through illegal activities, it would be Solomon Islands in the South Pacific.

For the past 20 years Solomon Islands had been relying on revenue from log exports to finance its services, most of which came from logging companies which continually break the country’s code of logging practice.

More than 70 percent of the country’s national budget was financed by revenue received from log exports.

The breaches include logging of protected tree species, duplication of felling licenses, logging in protected areas, logging outside concession boundaries, logging on steep slopes, riverbanks and water catchments.

Breaches also mean logging without authorisation, obtaining logging concessions through bribes, transporting illegally harvested timber, declaring lower value and volumes of export logs, ignoring national and international environmental, social and labor laws and regulations.

Ninety percent of the above were committed by more than one hundred logging companies operating on the main islands of Solomon Islands except Rennell Bellona Province.

Although millions of dollars came into the country over the past decades, landowners and indigenous Solomon Islanders saw little or no benefit to sustain their livelihoods.


Indigenous Solomon Islanders are the losers in the multi-million dollar logging industry according to a former Commissioner of Forest Gideon Bouro.

Mr Bouro said that the landowners and license holders who are dominantly Solomon Islanders lose financially, socially and environmentally.

He said many of the social problems which had resulted in family divisions came about through logging operations through disagreements over land boundaries and allocations, sharing of royalties and host of other things.

Environmentally, Solomon Islanders lose out in these operations because most of the people’s trees and biodiversity were lost. Natural disasters not seen before are frequent nowadays such as flash floods and landslides.

He said people have seen many days of rain in the past but have not seen flash floods and landslides as had seen recently.

Mr Bouro said the current sharing of log export money is a bad arrangement for Solomon Islanders where the contractor gets 60 percent, government 25 percent and the license holder and the landowner share the remaining 15 percent, normally it would be 10 percent to the licensee and the landowner 5 percent.

The Licensee, under obligation is expected to meet community obligations and contributions while the landowner share the royalty with relatives, which further reduce their share of the royalty money.

He said under this arrangement, the contractor not only get the 60 percent but a little more than that through a 20 percent profit margin as well as transfer pricing.

Mr Bouro said logging companies are also good at making very high overhead costs in their calculations to avoid paying profit taxes to the government.

He said there are many more logging companies operating in Solomon Islands than in the previous ten years because of subsidies or funds provided by original companies enabling foreign workers starting up logging companies.

“The creation of these subsidiary companies came about through an employee of the original company, mostly of Asian origin breaking off from the main company and after acquiring a few logging machines, establish another company,” said Mr Bouro.

He said many of the logging companies now operating in Solomon Islands country got their licenses to operate during the ethnic tension era when there was no law and order and their applications have not gone through the proper screening processes and procedures.

Mr Bouro confirmed receiving calls from permanent secretaries and other government officers during the ethnic tension era seeking directives from him whether or not they can issue logging licenses.

He said this is the reason why a lot of logging companies are cutting trees from the islands.

Mr Bouro also said that a lot of the country’s exportable trees on flat lands have gone and the only remaining natural forests are those on steep hills and areas prohibited under the country’s forestry Act.

But he said logging activities on Isabel and Western Provinces are going towards and above the 400 meter altitude which can be very devastating environmentally.

He said Solomon Islanders should now think seriously about the future of their forest and its biodiversity and turn to other alternatives such as agro-forestry, conservation and the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Fund which can sustain the forest into the future.


The effects of loss are being felt by various communities in Solomon Islands.

Moli community in Choiseul Province was a community which had engaged in logging activities more than ten years ago and after Eagon Company left them, the people not only felt hopeless but their standard of living had declined.

A Moli village elder and Eagon logging company’s Public relations officer Paul Telovai said the once sharing community is now charging all activities carried out even between relatives.

“It is now very unusual that brothers and sisters put a price tag on all activities which were done freely in the past such as clearing land for gardens and even assist in helping build houses. Communal work is not as good as it used to be because people expect money to be paid before any is done”.

Mr Telovai said the company left without fulfilling its promise to pay the salary of a nurse in the village’s clinic and the classrooms are rusting away with no funds to have them repaired.

A logging Camp  site

He said life is even harder than the days before logging company came and the damages remain until today.

In the Western Province of Solomon islands, women are complaining that streams are getting murky, undrinkable and fire wood are hard to collect.

They are being pushed aside when it comes to logging issues, which they are not happy about.

They confirmed sexual exploitation in logging camps with foreigners entering into false marriages only to leave their so called “wife to look after babies while the foreigner worker leaves for his home country, never to return again”.

This has resulted in children being abandoned or are left with parents who are faced with more difficulties in bringing the children up.

They confirm losing environmentally, culturally, and financially through logging activities and advised communities that have not gone through logging to forget it because logging will cause more problem that profits and benefits.


Even licensees, perceived by Solomon Islanders as being receivers of huge amounts of money are losers.

One of the licensees who managed two logging operations on Makira Island, Mike Saeki confirmed that most of the money received were spent on landowners’ demands, such air and sea fares, hospital and medical costs and other community contributions.

Mr Saeki said logging companies give money to licensees as advances and must be repaid in full after every shipment. He said after shipments, licensees don’t have enough money that they start advancing money from the companies again and when companies leave, they are left with very little money or not at all to allow them venture into other income generating activities.

The situation continues today and within a few years from today, Solomon Islands will not be in a position to export good volumes of round logs which will result in a drastic drop in the country’s revenue to finance its services.

A ban on logging will have little effect financially, socially and environmentally to Solomon Islands and its people because damages have been done by logging companies for more than 20 years.

Article from Live & Learn Media Centre, Chinatown

Next truth hearing for eastern region

Tuesday, 20 July 2010 11:14

THE fourth regional Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearing will be held from July 27 to 29.

This will be for the eastern region, including Makira and Temotu provinces.

But TRC’s media officer Dykes Angiki said venue for the hearing is yet to be confirmed.

TRC has already conducted hearings in Honiara, Malaita, Guadalcanal and Western.

Mr Angiki said after the fourth hearing for the eastern region, they will conduct the fifth hearing from those in the central region.

This will be for those in Isabel, Central, and Renbel provinces.

Mr Angiki said the firth hearing will be conducted after the national elections on August 4.

The hearings feature victims of the past ethnic tension coming out to share their stories. It is part of the national healing process.



Tora to Ulawa for campaign

Monday, 19 July 2010 10:43

CARETAKER Minister for Police, National Security and Correctional Services, James Tora is confident of returning his seat in next month’s National General Election.

Mr Tora, who is the outgoing Member of Parliament for Ulawa Ugi in Makira Ulawa province left last Saturday to his constituency to start campaigning in the remaining two weeks.

Speaking to Solomon Star before his departure, Mr Tora said he has the confidence to come back.

Mr. James Tora. 

“I want to thank my people for having confidence in him in the last five years.

“I am looking if come back to work closely with chiefs to develop our constituency,” he said.

Mr Tora said he plans to use the Ward Development Authority under the ordinance of Makira Ulawa provincial government to channel the Rural Constituency Development Funds (RCDF) if return to Parliament.

“In Ulawa Ugi we have 4 wards. I will make bank accounts for four of the wards to channel the RDCF.

“This is to allow me to concentrate on my work as the legislator,” he said.

Mr Tora came into power in 2005 through a by-election after former MP for Ulawa Ugi, Sir Nathaniel Waena was elected as the country’s Governor General.

He was then re-elected in the 2006 national election and served his constituency in the last four years.

Mr Tora said during his last five years, he assisted in education, infrastructure, school fees, water supply and housing projects.

“In 2008, I gave $1 million to schools. And in 2009, I initiated the housing improvement project which is now in its phase 1,” he said.

Mr Tora said his aim to make every single household in his constituency has permanent building after ten years.

Meanwhile, Mr Tora wants to thank his permanent secretary, Commissioner of Police, Participating Police Force (PPF) Commander, Special Coordinator of RAMSI, senior staffs and office staffs and Correctional Commissioner for working with him in his one year in office.

He also wishes good luck to other intending candidates in this upcoming election.



Friday, July 16, 2010

Tentative Candidate List for 2010 Elections - Makira Province

Hello Wantoks and friends. Below is the unofficial list of candidates standing in the upcoming general elections for the four constituencies of Makira Ulawa Province.

Have a look and tell us what you think....
West Makira

1. Golden Kiloko
2. Edmond Dangi
3. Nelson Nausi
4. Jimmy Hanson Riunga
5. Alick Dangi
6. Daniel Dautaha
7. Dick Haamori
8. James Morea
9. Jackson Sunaone
10. Peter Trena Rarahaabura
11. Jackson Raeri
12. John Mepuke Taaru
13. Japhet Waipora (former MP)
14. Richard Taro
15. Paul Marita

Central Makira

1. Romano Tarohania
2. Vkey Mansugu
3. Nester Ghiro
4. Fr. Joseph Tamuatara
5. Henry G Hagawusia
6. Hypolite Taremae
7. Paul Watoto
8. Jack Faga
9. Nesta Marahora
10. Fox H Qwaina
11. Alfred Woto
12. Fredson Fenua
13. Aaron Koroa
14. Benard Ghiro (former MP)
15. Thomas Nukuafi
16. Edmund Mehare

East Makira

1. Warren Tereqoroa
2. Martin Karani
3. Henry Siake Kuata
4. Otto Mafuara Kuper
5. Nathaniel Peter Wakaa
6. Stevenson Piringisau
7. Daniel Wagatora
8. Stanley Stafford Siapu
9. Henry Jack Kuata Sitai
10. Thomas Bea
11. Fred Pagewa Fanua
12. Nicholas K Gapiara
13. Alfred Ghiro
14. John Mamate


1. Carl Warren Belden
2. Ashley Rohorua
3. Sir Nathaniel Waena
4. Fox C
5. Augustine Waetara
6. Noel Mamau
7. Meffrey Awgo
8. Michael Ramsi Poki
9. Henry Marau
10. James Tora (former MP)
11. Wilfred Robertson Natei
12. Joseph Harry Makoa
13. Rafael Oli
14. Peter Titiulu

Projects in Makira slowly progressing

 Thursday, 15 July 2010 10:49

NUMBERS of projects that were implemented at Makira province are slowly progressing as construction work on the projects sites continue to take shape.

Last month the Makira Ulawa provincial government (MUPG) officials has visited some of these project sites including the St Ana fishery, water tanks in Aorigi village, cocoa copra storage shed plus other projects and noted that materials is one of the requirements to complete the construction work of these projects.

MUPG confirmed the need of purchasing timber and cement materials for the fishery centre which is facing shortage of materials since May that slow the work on the fishery centre.

However Makira provincial government said it urges contractors and the communities of St. Ana to work together and committed on agreements as the budgets have already been spent but the construction on the project is increasingly delayed.

It says according to Aorigi village water tank project, it is pleased to see the project is completed.

“In Hagaruhi and Parego villages agreements have been signed with the communities and constructors to provide timber for the construction of the copra and cocoa storage shed, other villages like Ra’a, Tetere, Marunga, Anuta and Waikaha projects are going well in those areas”.

Meanwhile MUPG is planning to conduct a survey to identify the communities, education and health facilities that are in need of infrastructure improvement.

The province have decided to have RWSS officers lead a team from education, works, health promotion and RWSS to visit all wards and the conduct the survey.



Tuesday, July 13, 2010

June busy month for Makira province

 Tuesday, 13 July 2010 15:53

June has been a month full of preparations, training, and sports the Makira Ulawa Provincial government (MUPG) says in its newsletter released yesterday.

At the beginning of the month our Provincial Secretary (PS) travelled to Honiara to receive instructions and training on the management of the National Elections.

Following, a team from Honiara visited our province to train our officers and other election officials in the organization and administration of the national elections.

Our officers have since travelled around the province to raise awareness of the elections and its procedures and to present posters and leaflets about the election rules.

MUPG has also opened an election office in the former PS residence.

If anyone has questions about the elections, please feel free to pass by this office and our officers will be happy to discuss with you.

The elections will find place on August 4th.

Many candidates have now registered to compete for the seats in Parliament.

We wish them all the best and call for free and fair campaign and election.

Given the election date, the Executive has decided to postpone the 2nd Appointed Day festivities to be held in Ulawa by one Month.

Three officers in the Treasury Department (Treasurer, Deputy Treasurer and Payroll Officer) recently spent time in Honiara for intensive training in MYOB - a computer accounting program. All passed the course and received their certificates.

More training in Kirakira will be organized, but already our finance department will be able to better account and report revenue and expenses against our budget through this program.

We expect this will increase our budget management capacities and accountability, which should support us in providing more and better services to you.

The Solomon Island Central Bank visited our province and provided its SMART training which had the objective to create understanding, raise awareness and train people in the basics of finances and banking.

We want to applaud the Central Bank for this initiative and thank the trainers for their efforts.

Another important announcement comes from the ANZ Bank, which visited our province during the month.

They are planning to install an ATM in Kirakira, which we hope will help address the regular problems we have of cash shortages in the province.

MUPG’s strong stance with logging companies seems to be paying off.

At the start of the year, MUPG communicated to all logging companies that it will not sign any license without first receiving 50% of the annual license fee and a commitment to pay the other 50% and in case its arrears.

Many logging companies have already transferred their first payment to the provincial bank account.

MUPG vows to maintain this strong stance and in the case that companies stop paying their remaining fees, we will withdraw licenses and or take other actions.

MUPG needs to analyze its budget to see if this increase in revenues will also lead to a surplus in our budget.

In case, we will keep you updated on how we will plan to spend this additional budget on services and infrastructure for you.

For the first time in many years, a Librarian Workshop was organized in Kirakira. All Principals, Deputy Principals and English teachers came and participated in this workshop over the school holidays. Also the Early Childhood Education (block 3) teachers’ training has started.

This program is run in partnership with World Vision. We want to thank the Education Authorities and World Vision for their hard work.

Between 9-10th June, the annual Wogasia or spear fighting festival held in St Catalina was celebrated by the island communities.

The festival is an exciting traditional event in which a chain of ceremonies outline the story of how the Aorigi clans, men and women came together in peace and harmony.

A group of 15 international tourists visited the festival and many local people returned to participate.

All were impressed with the organization of the festival and the hospitality of the Aorigi community.

The festival also demonstrates the potential for tourism in our Province and the need to better promote our local events.

Also in mid-June a large delegation from Makira Ulawa travelled to Auki, Malaita, to compete in the Solomon Games.

Around 130 young men and women fought for our pride and honor. Unfortunately, rain delayed many sports programs and concerns about allowance payments for referees further challenged the program.

Nevertheless, this could not take away the excitement and good performances of our teams.

Makira won one Golden medal (Athletics) and several Silver (Athletics, Taekwondo, Futsal, Netball) and Bronze medals (Table tennis, Athletics, Taekwondo). We want to congratulate all with their successes.

All over the Province, our people are following the World Cup Soccer in South Africa.

New Zealand which represented our Pacific region played well and drew all its games, even against Italy which is the present World Champion.

Unfortunately, the Kiwi’s did not make it into the second round and became third in their pool.

However as we know Spain had win the world cup title and all the best to them.

-Makira Ulawa monthly newsletter ( from

Monday, July 5, 2010

Makira – A sleeping economic giant

Friday, 02 July 2010 09:21

MAKIRA is a fascinating island.

Its open coastline, certainly from Kira Kira – the Makira/Ulawa provincial capital to Arosi II – can be less friendly at times.

Several ships have come to grief in several areas around the island.

Although I have traveled widely throughout Solomon Islands, a three-day trip to Makira in early June this year was my first there.

That trip, albeit short, has given me a better understanding of the island’s strategic geography, its natural resources and the potential it has in terms of a robust, rural-based economy politicians have talked about for the last three decades, but had done little to live it.

Dick Ha’amori, a former head of the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education (SICHE), was our guide of sort on the trip.

Our Kira Kira-bound flight on the Twin Otter from Honiara was late, but we made good time on the hour-long flight.

It was a beautiful day, with what appeared, certainly from the air, as nothing but glassy seas below. As we made landfall, one could clearly see the scars of logging operations below us.

“That’s Waimapuru National Secondary down there,” someone said to me as he pointed to buildings on the coastline below us.

On the way into town from the airstrip, we passed a tract of land, designated for the new Kira Kira Township.

It was surveyed about a year or so ago, but to date the report has been withheld because of non-payment of a $50,000 fee.

We settled briefly at the Freshwind Motel, just metres away from the Kira Kira hospital.

“The roof of that hospital building has never been repaired in 60 years,” someone pointed to the rusted corrugated iron roofing on the building.

As we had time to kill before we set out on our two-hour boat ride to Boroni, Mr Ha’amori’s home village, we took a drive around town, traveling past the hospital and on to what is regarded as the main seaport.

The seaport is an interesting place. On one side is a privately-operated fuel depot and on the other is a Chinese-run retail shop, which I was told had created quite a competition for local operators.

There are outboard canoes everywhere, but there’s no wharf.

“This is the most depressing sight I’ve ever seen,” someone in our group said.

At 5pm, we were finally on our way to Boroni – a two-hour ride away in Arosi I, arriving there around 8pm that Saturday night.

Because we headed west, the daylight seemed longer, giving me an opportunity to quiz the two Makira/Ulawa Provincial Government Ministers who traveled with us about the coconut plantations that dotted the coastline.

“Those are coconut plantations you see along the coast. There are cocoa plantations as well and the road goes through them,” they told me.

The road goes almost the entire length of the island. Sites of logging operations too were visible against the background of the setting sun.

On Monday morning, it was another long trip right to the southern tip of the island and up the western coastline of Makira otherwise known as Arosi II. Again, it was a perfect day for traveling on open, motorised canoe.

Heranigao – a large South Sea Evangelical Church village was our first stop for the day. There, some landowners have come out to meet and hear New Zealand businessman, Kelvyn Alp, talk about his business model.

These landowners have apparently heard about what he’s doing on Guadalcanal and want to hear it from the horse’s mouth as it were.

The two-hour meeting dragged into four. It was 4pm by the time we left.

It was on the way to Heranigao village, a name meaning ants’ cemetry in the local dialect, that something bizarre happened to my digital camera.

As we were dropping off two people on a cliff face there, a small wave hit our canoe, wetting my camera bag.

As I switched it on, the light and the viewfinder came on but not the screen. It was all blank.

I learned later that where we had made the drop was not far from the entrance of a tunnel rumored to have a military base on Makira.

This “base” so says some reports, is where so called soundless military planes, submarine and even amphibian vehicles operate from.

All manners of state of the art gadgetry including telecommunications are in operation here, according to those familiar with the reports on military activities inside the tunnel base.

My camera returned to normal three days later after I had arrived back in Honiara. It was just as well I had taken a few photos around the Marou Bay area before the mishap.

I would have missed the beautiful scenery altogether otherwise.

As we headed back to Kira Kira that Monday night, questions were going through my mind – questions such as why Makira has not taken off economically.

After all, it has cocoa, coconut plantations, not to mention banana ones, timber, mineral potentials and a road network, all make for an economically robust and viable unit. Its outer islands are great places for tourism, fisheries and so on.

Makira, in my mind, is not living its full potential. Yes, it is contributing to the national basket in terms of copra and cocoa exports, timber and so on, but its resources far outstrip its population.

And yet it does not seem to be moving, why? Is it leadership?

Freshwind Hotel proprietor, Noel Mamau, blamed a Makira mindset for this stagnancy in development, so evident in Kira Kira.

“You see we have a mindset here in Kira Kira that a wharf can never be built here. The reason: no wharf can be built in an open coastline. It is rough,” he said.

“But hang on, what are engineers for?” he asked.

He said political leadership is at the heart of the matter.

“Look at Kira Kira, we’re about to celebrate our centenary and yet government houses built during the colonial administration time have never been repaired.

“Kira Kira should set the development benchmark for what happens in the province.

“When nothing happens here, nothing happens anywhere in the province. And that’s the mindset our people have – nothing will happen here,” Mr Mamau, a candidate contesting this year’s national general election, said.

"Our market here is one example. Vendors only come to the market for an hour [6am – 7am] every day except on Sundays.

“They never bring anything that they believe would not sell after that 7am. And that’s a mindset,” he said.

As we prepare to head to the airport, I turned to Mr Ha’amori and repeated what I had said to him over the last two days. I told him the conclusion of my assessment.

“You are way, way ahead of some of us when it comes to the basic infrastructure you need to build a viable and robust economic unit in West Makira,” I said.

“You have a road network that almost spans the island. You have banana, cocoa and coconut plantations, which some of us don’t have. Your answer it seems now lies in organising and providing leadership.”

Makira Island in my view is a sleeping economic giant, ready to take off given a leadership that focuses on its rural population and the abundant resources available to them.

Its set up is perfect for the Rural Economic Communities [RECs], which the Direct Development Party [DDP] espouses.

Mr Ha’amori heads the DDP and is its candidate for the West Makira Constituency.

Could he be the man to end the Makira mindset and set in motion an avalanche of new thinking to develop this naturally-rich island?

The outcome of the contest for the seat will be an interesting one to watch.


Alfred Sasako is a veteran journalist and a candidate for the East Kwaio seat in Malaita in this year’s national elections. He is a member of the Direct Development Party