A MEMBER of Kochiabolo, one of the four core tribes working with the government to acquire his land for the Tina River Hydro Development, has cautioned members of the Bahomea and Malango Houses of Chiefs to be aware of the real intentions of certain individuals who are using the project to gain political favour.
Job Vari, vice chairman of Malango House of Chiefs, said the four core tribes have signed because they believe that the Tina Hydro will bring far better benefits for their communities in the long term.
He also said he is surprised that those in Bahomea stirring up support of the Bahomea House of Chiefs were the same people who grabbed more benefits from the Project in 2011 when it was operating in their purported land.
“Is the Project bad now because it has moved to our lands?” he asked.
Mr Vari also stressed that land belongs to individual tribes and they alone could make decisions about how they want to utilise their land for their benefits.
“Not Bahomea or Malango, the two Houses of Chiefs, whatever paramount chief or individual or political leader.
“In this project we strongly believe that we will benefit as soon as the Project starts working until the next 100 years.
“In all my experiences about contracts and agreements in Central Guadalcanal, this is the best I have ever come across.
“This project gives us a win-win situation, not like past agreements when we the landowners have always been left out.
“Yes, the land will be acquired by the government but the PE title will revert to us through a 50-50% joint venture with the government.
“The government has also given a 15% benefit share for the every single citizen of Malango and Bahomea. Where in the past have our so called leaders struck such a deal for us the landowners of Malango?”
Mr Vari said this arrangement was developed by the government because of consistent complaints by communities through awareness since 2011.
The general complaint and request was they didn’t agree with the Gold Ridge arrangement and wanted a different approach from the Tina Hydro.
As such, he said, the project is trying to follow those requests to ensure the people received better benefits from their lands.
He also clarified that the two Houses of Chiefs were ready to go ahead with a land identification in 2012 but a directive from the then Landowners Council stopped them, from proceeding through the Project Office, because it wanted to understand the real benefits for landowners.
He said if the then Landowners Council was really serious about making a good deal for the people of Bahomea and Malango, why did it delay the process for three years?
Mr Vari maintained that the core tribes have signed for this exciting arrangement because they strongly believe that the communities of Bahomea and Malango will benefit in the long term.
“This is why I want our members of the two Houses of Chiefs to differentiate between community benefits and individual benefits of people vying for the general election this year,” he cautioned.