SIPA controversy must be sorted - Solomon Star News

SIPA controversy must be sorted

18 April 2016

WE all want the best for our international sea port in Honiara.

So any reforms to achieve that must be supported by all.

But the controversy surrounding the manner in which Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA) chief executive officer Colin Yow is carrying out the proposed reform is worrying.

The important role Honiara’s international sea port plays in the life of the nation’s economy cannot be further stated.

This is why SIPA, as the authority mandated to look after the port, must be effective and efficient in the manner it manages the port’s facilities.

The proposed reforms SIPA has in place to develop the port into one of the Pacific’s best is a step in the right direction.

Mr Yow, a Singaporean-born Australian citizen, has been mandated to lead the proposed reforms.

He started off quite well.

But when he began to venture into rice, noodle, and seaplane undertakings, critics, especially the business community, started to question those actions.

As port users, they have the right to be concerned.

The SIPA Act is clear.

SIPA’s mandate is to facilitate import and export at the port and develop the facilities for the efficient use of exporters and importers.

Venturing into rice, noodle, and seaplane are obviously outside the purview of the SIPA Act.

Unless the Act is amended to cater for these, Mr Yow or the SIPA board will be breaking the law if they chose to venture into businesses that are outside their responsibilities.

Furthermore, the purported reforms seem to have been forced down the throat of the business community.

There is very little consultation, if any at all.

In a small community and economy like Solomon Islands, this is not how we do business.

Consultation should be the bedrock of good and effective reforms.

As pointed out earlier, we want the best for our port and any reforms to ensure this happens must be supported by all.

But SIPA under Mr Yow appeared to have bulldozed its reform with very little regard for the wider business community.

This is why they are on their feet over some of the reform decisions.

Reform is only acceptable when it is done for the common good.

But when it is orchestrated in a manner that will harm other stakeholders, then it is not reform.

The government, through the SIPA board, needs to step in quickly and redirect the reforms so that it is done for the benefit of all.

By allowing the controversy to drag on, we are not giving the attention that SIPA needs to develop our port facilities to better standard.

With all that’s being said, the ball is now in the government’s court to play its responsibility.

SIPA is too important for this nation to get caught up in the controversy it is now going through.