Land, building under private ownership since 2005
By WILSON SAENI
PART of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development (MID) land in Auki has been under private ownership for the past 15 years.
That was after it was transferred for a record low price of just $2,500, in what was described as a “corrupt move by fellow wantoks at work”.
An investigation carried out by the Solomon Star Auki uncovered that part of the MID land, which has an office building in it, was transferred by a Lands officer who served at the Auki Lands Office back in 2005, to a private businessman.
Information obtained during the investigation revealed that the private businessman is related to the lands officer.
Both are from the Auki area.
Since 2005, the land and Civil Support Unit (CSU) office located in the area was under private ownership in a move that denied CSU an office space in Auki for the past 15 years.
The investigation carried out by this newspaper revealed that in 2005 a surveyor from the lands office in Auki surveyed the land and confirmed that the land still belongs to MID.
After the survey report, MID built a new office in the area to house the Community Sector Project (CSP) which was piloted by MID back then.
When the CSP piloted project was over, the building was awarded for CSU where CSU use it as its office until the private businessman pop up and erected a new fence dividing the MID land and claim the building and part of the area.
Information obtained stated a second surveyor was sent to survey the same land.
MID workers in Auki question the second surveyor, saying someone had already surveyed the land and the land belongs to MID.
The strong opposition from MID officers in Auki for the second surveyor got the MID officers in trouble when Surveyor General at the time rang the MID officer and instructed them not to interfere with the second surveyor.
Information revealed that the Surveyor General back then is also from Langa Langa, which raised more suspicions of a strong network at play.
MID officers in Auki did not do much when they received threat from the Surveyor General regarding the matter.
Just after the second surveyor completed the task, the private businessman ordered part of the MID land to be fenced whilst the CSU officer still used the building.
CSU officers were forced to move their office equipment over the newly erected fence which has no access gate to the MID works office.
Since then, part of the MID land and CSU office becomes a private property.
Since 2005 the office was used by different organizations with rentals deposited directly to the account of the private businessman.
World Vision used the building for sometimes and the last group to have used the building were the Census group.
According to information received, half of the rental payment for the Census group that used the building has already been paid while half still on halt when issues surrounding the transfer of the build popped up this year.
Investigation carried our revealed that the Town and Planning Board already made a resolution for the land and office to be transferred back to MID.
Similarly, Malaita Provincial Executive also made a resolution for the land and office to be transferred back to MID to serve its rightful purpose in the province.
The big question now is how far has the Minister of MID and his PS deal with the issue.
It appeared this is a very clear act of corruption and nepotism at play which resulted in the transfer of part of the MID land.
Another interesting question is has the Commissioner of Lands aware of this ill dealing?
It was revealed that the main idea behind the building of the office in the transferred land is for the CSU to have a permanent office in Auki.
The land and the office space are important for MID Auki as the building has many rooms that can house a number of offices.
When Solomon Star Auki visited the building this week, it was locked, vacant and only used by stray-dogs.
Information gathered also stated that World Bank Project, which comes under MID, was forced to rent an office space opposite the transferred land and building.
Should the officer and land not transferred to private ownership, World Bank Project would not have to look for office space.
MID office in Auki wishes to see the land returned back to MID to help its service delivery in Auki and Malaita.
The private businessman for sure has earned huge cash out of the building through rental bills over the past 15 years.
It was further revealed that the whole of MID land in Auki was offered to the private businessman, which means any delay by MID to deal with the case will see MID lose all its land in Auki in the same way.