Landowners challenge, undersea cable in Court - Solomon Star News

Landowners challenge, undersea cable in Court

08 August 2019
Paramount Chief of Tandai Mr. Charles Charles Keku Tsilivi. [Photo: Lachlan Eddie]

THE Landowners of Tandai will legally test the Coral Sea Cable project in the High Court due to claims Government fail to properly acquire the land for the project.

The challenge will be heard for mention today - Thursday 8th August 2019

Speaking to Solomon Star in an exclusive phone interview paramount chief Charles Keku Tsilivi confirmed that the land for the project was not properly acquired.

"The foreshore land in Honiara is not customary land it has been registered under a perpetual title and we are the title holders," Tsilivi told this paper

He further added that in their previous round-table discussion in the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet the government promised to give the landowners feedback of the land acquisition but it never happened.

“As the rightful landowners we were very shocked that our very government did a compulsory acquisition on our land for the Undersea Cable Project.

“According to our understanding compulsory acquisition can only be done on a customary land and not on the land that we have the title over,” Tsivili said. 

He added that they have also filed a restraining order to stop the project work on the site.

“I want the people to know that the government did not respect the true landowners and continue to push us aside.

“This means that the government also does not respect our land,” Tsivili told this paper yesterday.

Paramount chief Tsivili also questioned the involvement of the Attorney General in relation to a payment that was done to three different tribes who have no ownership in the said land.

The tribes are Kakau Valimauvo, Simbo and Kindipale.

Meanwhile, Commissioner of Lands Alan McNeil in a media statement said that part of the foreshore was acquired from registered landowners for public purpose. 

"The submarine cable is a national project in the public interest and the project will have widespread benefits to the whole population," Mr McNeil said.

Solomon Islands signed up to the project in July last year, with Australia providing majority funding for the cable that will also link to PNG.

A spokesman for Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told ABC news that all land access agreements were the responsibility of the Solomon Islands government. 

This paper understands that the Coral Sea Cable is scheduled to be operational by the end of the year.