Tourism minister Bodo Dettke has rejected claims he demanded $10 million from the government in relation to the Kukum Highway Improvement Project.
The demand is reportedly for the use of eight metres of the stretch of land immediately on the western left-end of the two-lane Mataniko bridge, which will be taken up when the road work starts.
That stretch of land is part Dettke’s plot on the western side of the Mataniko river.
It was alleged the $10 million demand led to the delay to start the project.
But Dettke simply dismissed the allegations as untrue.
“Those who made the claim need to get their facts right before they start misleading the public with false information,” Dettke said.
The claims were made in an article written by freelance reporter Allan Siau.
Siau claimed Dettke’s recent removal from Forestry to Tourism was linked to the demand.
He also claimed government valuation put the acquisition of the land at about $3 million, which Dettke allegedly rejected outright.
“The improvement on the river banks on the land is used as manifestation to justify his claims for an addition $6.7 million payout,” Siau said in his article.
He further claimed Dettke also wants the Japanese firm constructing the road upgrade to build their offices on his land.
“But sources pointed out this was not clear as to whether this would be free of charge or not, a gesture the source very much doubted.
“The Japanese Government has told the minister it is not prepared to build an office on his land because the area is vulnerable to flooding,” Siau wrote in the article.
Japan is funding the multi-million dollar road project that will include the expansion of the two existing Mataniko bridges and the widening of the Honiara City Council round-about.
The Japanese government is expected to announce the contractor in coming weeks.
By BRADFORD THEONOMI