A meeting of the Elders’ Council in Gizo has been told of plans for a number of major infrastructure projects being developed on government land in the Provincial capital.
These include a Campus of the Solomon Islands National University (SINU), a new Western Provincial Assembly Chamber, and a new Office for the Correctional Service of Solomon Islands (CSSI).
News of these projects was disclosed at a Community Awareness meeting held at Kongulavata in Gizo, Western Province last Monday.
The one-day meeting was an initiative of the entire Elder’s Council Organization through the Ministry of Peace and Reconciliation Division of the Western Provincial Government and was intended for the people who settled on government land along with the coastal areas of West Gizo including Titiana, Paelonge, Saeragi, New Manda and Kongulavata.
Premier David Gina and his Senior Officer, Gideon Tuke, attended the meeting, which was called to explain that harvesting of trees on government land is illegal.
Senior Provincial Administration Officer, Gideon Tuke told Solomon Star the meeting was all about the issue of the continuous illegal cutting of trees on government land.
Mr. Tuke said this is one of the main issues raised by many of the elders in wanting to know more about what is going on in those areas that are owned by the Government.
He said many people who live on government land are still cutting down trees without government approval.
“Kongulavata and other nearby settlements are the hotspots for illegal felling of trees on government land. Some people do respect government ownership of the land while others do not.
‘’Even worse, people in and around the islands including, Vella, Simbo, Ranogga, and Kolombangara also come into Gizo to harvest trees on government land. They sell the timber for their own benefit without government approval,” he said.
Premier Gina told the meeting there would be ongoing developments that are still in the process for the harvesting of the trees that are planted by the Forestry at the Mile 6 and the other government's land.
“Only the government has the right to harvest those trees. People in the communities are not allowed to harvest these trees,’’ Premier Gina said.
Mr. Tuke said there are many development plans which would soon be taking place on the government land.
“These, he said, include the proposed site for the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) campus, the new Office for the Correctional Service of Solomon Islands (CSSI), and the Western Provincial Assembly Chamber.”
In the sometimes somewhat heated discussion, members of the Elders Council said they agreed it was right that the government harvest the trees.
Following the heated discussion speculating on Facebook through social media, rumors been spreading that Gizo will be logged soon.
It is understood a harvesting plan is being put together for trees on government land to make way for the proposed infrastructure projects.
By ULUTAH GINA