By AATAI JOHN LAUNGI
THE Government has warned the Bina Harbour project in Malaita province will be left out for good if the ongoing land dispute is not resolved by this year.
Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources John Maneniaru revealed this in Parliament last week.
“This year would be the final attempt by government to sort out land issues at Bina Harbor otherwise they will strike it off if its not making any progress.”
He made the statement during the Committee of Supply in Parliament last Monday, when responding to questions asked by Member of Parliament (MP) for Shortland Christopher Laore.
Mr Laore asked the Minister to assure Parliament how the land issues at Bina would be sorted out since millions has been spent on the project over the last 40 years but the same issue of land dispute is still a hindrance to the project.
Laore said, there are sites available in other parts of the country to accommodate this much needed development that has been delayed for too long but land issue is still a problem.
The Minister in response said, he sometimes think about Bina Harbor and suspects that there is a network going on to drain money out from the government with little or nothing progressing on the ground.
Mr Maneniaru said, this year government will keep pushing to acquire the 10 hectares land at Bina for the project and if land is continued to be delayed then the project will have to be shifted to another site on Malaita or other provinces.
“I have to say this for people from Bina to hear this. This year we will try to sort out the land issue and acquire the site earmarked for the onshore fish processing project but if difficulty persists then this project has to be relocated somewhere else.”
The MP for East Are’Are said, government has spent millions on this project to conduct meetings, transportation and logistic costs but little is seen on the ground.
He said this year $1million was allocated in the budget for the Ministry to sort out land issues at Bina Harbor.
“Once it fails, it has to be struck off.”
However, MP for Aoke-Langalanga Matthew Wale argued that government is also to be blamed for the problems that delayed the implementation of the project.
Mr. Wale said, High Court has gave its ruling on the disputed site but government continue to bring in people who already lose their case in court into the process, which causes all these problems.
“While it is a good approach to ‘leave no one behind,’ we have to do things by considering the court rulings made on disputed site earmarked for development.”
But the Minister said that does not work on the situation of Bina because the court ruling only gave right to an individual but the land is owned by the tribe according to the culture of Melanesia and they cannot go on dealing with a particular person while the rest of the tribe left out.
Nevertheless, the Minister reiterated that this year will be the final attempt for the government to sort out the land differences and if that does not work out then this project is taken out from Bina.
If land issues persist, Bina project will be struck off
By AATAI JOHN LAUNGI