The ball is in the landowners’ court - Solomon Star News

The ball is in the landowners’ court

12 November 2015

THE future of the newly built Manaoba Airfield in north Malaita now lies in the hands of landowners.

If they want Solomon Airlines to service their airfield, they have to sort out the on-going land dispute between them so that the national carrier can fly its aircrafts there.

Already, the government has done its part. It availed millions of dollars of tax-payers money to allow for the construction and completion of the airfield.

The Civil Aviation Depart had checked the facility and certified it to receive aircrafts.

Solomon Airlines had made a test-flight to Manaoba and confirmed its suitability to receive its aircraft.

Furthermore, the national carrier has identified Manaoba as a potential profitable route it can serve on a daily basis.

So really, the ball is now in the courts of the landowners.

They have to sort themselves out and start enjoying the use of the facility, or they keep on arguing until the cows come home.

Manaoba landowners need to know this.

They are lucky to have an airfield built on their land. Not many rural communities enjoyed that privilege.

An airfield is not cheap to build. The government has to dig deep into the public purse in order to get the money it needs to build such facility.

Communities that have an airfield built within their vicinity should count themselves lucky.

They should be embracing such facilities because of the many benefits that come with it.

Yes, the benefits are numerous. Tourism and market opportunities are notable benefits.

If the people of Lau Lagoon want to venture into tourism related activities, Manaoba Airfield offers them the best opportunity to do just that.

Having an airfield close by is also an advantage when it comes to travel. You want to get to Honiara today, just jump on a plane and in less than an hour, you are in town.

These are benefits you won’t access in vicinities without airfields.

Manaoba landowners may have been fully aware of these. But they chose instead to argue over the ownership of the land where the airfield was built.

They need to be reminded their on-going dispute will bring them nothing. It only denied them all the benefits and advantages an airfield brings to a rural community such as theirs.

Solomon Islands, as a nation, may lose up to $20 million – the money spent to build the facility – if Manaoba Airfield is not allowed to operate.

But the biggest losers are the people of Manaoba who will lose a life-time opportunity to improve their standard of living.