GWAUNARU’U Airport near Auki, Malaita, reopened Monday this week.
This was after more than two years of closure due to disputes amongst landowners.
The financial loss the closure had on Malaita as a province was catastrophic.
Solomon Airlines, as the service provider, experienced similar losses.
The reopening of the airport is not only welcomed news, but one of the best things to have happened in Malaita this year.
Economic development does not happened in a vacuum.
It takes place when people open up their land.
Gwaunaru’u is the gateway to Malaita.
It is also the third busiest domestic airport behind Gizo and Munda in Western Province.
As far as Solomon Airlines is concerned, it is one of their most profitable domestic routes.
The national government and Solomon Airlines have plans in place to tar seal and built a lighting system for Gwaunaru’u Airport.
Solomon Airlines chief executive officer Captain Ron Sumsum announced this at the commissioning of Gwaunaru’u on Wednesday.
This is so that it could enjoy similar status as Munda and Gizo.
Furthermore, a lighting system allows Solomon Airlines to operate night flights to Gwaunaru’u, giving more options for local travellers.
While the government has good plans in place for Malaita, Malaitans must prepare to be part of those plans.
The first thing they need to do is to sort out their differences pertaining to landownership.
When that’s done, they can stand together and open up their land for development to take place.
This is how you bring economic development to your community and province.
Land dispute is one of the main obstacles to development in Malaita.
Currently, Parasi Airport on Small Malaita is closed due to land dispute.
Parasi has served the southern region of Malaita for many years until its closure three years ago.
The situation has denied the travelling public quick trips to that region.
The newly built Manaopa Airport in north Malaita cost the national government around $60 million.
It’s an airport built to accommodate Solomon Airlines Dash-8 aircraft.
Since its completion more than a year ago, it has yet to take in a single commercial flight.
Reason: land dispute.
Against the travelling public is being denied quick trips to the northern region of Malaita.
The plan to tarseal and install new lighting system for Gwaunaru’u Airport is great news.
But landowners must not allow their differences to impede such initiative.
It would be a huge loss to the nation if such facilities are built but could not be used due to disputes.