Having discovered the deal, MAL in a statement yesterday condemned the action in its strongest term.
MAL found out that the land was sold out by HCC to an Asian without the ministry’s knowledge, a statement from MAL said.
“The land is used for destruction of all garbage removed from international vessels and aircraft coming into the Solomon Islands.
“It’s a requirement that garbage of this sort must be offloaded and incinerated as biosecurity risk is very high. Normal garbage for incinerators in this premises are plants and plant products and animal and their products,” Director of Biosecurity of MAL, Francis Tsatsia said.
MAL Permanent Secretary Ethel Tebengi Frances was very disappointed about the action taken by HCC to sell off the land without consulting her ministry (MAL).
“At least the courtesy to inform us so we can negotiate with them (HCC). This is a threat to the national security of this country during this COVID-19 pandemic as wastes from flights into the country poses a huge threat.”
She added that MAL will not go down without a fight to retain this piece of land for our national security.
“There had been reports of the fence being removed and our staff being harassed. It is unacceptable,” Mrs. Frances said.
Biosecurity Director Mr. Francis further added that “there was no communication between MAL, BSI, and HCC or at least some discussions with BSI as they have been using the site for over 20 years now.
“HCC knows the land and that it’s been very important and essential for Biosecurity operations.
“The area is best suited for BSI operation. It’s away from residential properties and has good security fencing. MAL has invested a lot of money for treatment facilities of imported products not meeting SI standards.
“The area has been used for over twenty years. Facilities here include a building for chemical storage, a room for animal product treatment, and an incinerator for general garbage disposal.
“It is very risky and difficult for the department in these circumstances and the continuous threat to COVID-19 to our front line staff. This operation is not only protecting Solomon Islands from the further incursion of pests and diseases through garbage removal for foreign vessel and international aircraft but also has been a revenue earner for the Solomon Islands Government by way of fees and charges,” Mr. Tsatsia said.
He said that the Ministry will try and pursue to take the land back for Biosecurity treatment operation adding this should be done not only under public interests but to safeguard Solomon Islands from the risk of new pests and diseases coming into the country Biosecurity regulated risk items.
HCC executive could not be reached for comments last night.