Delay to open up Lomlom airport in the Reef Island of Temotu province has nothing to do with land dispute.
That’s according to chairman of Naube Landowner Association (NLA) Alick Bononga (NLA).
Speaking to the Solomon Star yesterday Bononga said the land where Lomlom airport is situated was acquired in the 1970s, hence it is now before the hands of the rightful landowners to consent the land for flight operation.
Mr Bononga said, the delay in opening of the airport was due to our current claim before the government and probably some small technical work that needs to be done before the airfield could be open for flight service.
He also said, Lomlom was inspected and has when tested and subsequently was insured last year.
NLA chairman further stated that outstanding claims like acquisition of gravels obtained from customary land is a must address issue for the government and this should not be an excuse on the government budget, since respect for the rights resource owners is paramount if we want to develop the rural areas.
“These claims are genuine, since it comes from the landowners association, whom were elected under the constitution with the authority to make decisions on behalf of landowners,” he said. “We don’t have any other people dispute the land, so it is easy for the government to deal with us and our claims,” he added.
Moreover, he said the letter sent by a group to Aviation and Ministry of Lands was not a dispute letter, rather a request letter for inclusion in the association since these people are relatives to the signatories of Lomlom airport, so NLA is ready to meet and discuss with them now.
He continued; for any technical work that contributes to delay of the airport could be better explain by Director of Solomon Aviation Authority, George Satu.
However, Satu told this news paper yesterday that he will not comment on the matter, since acting Permanent Secretary (PS) has to be consulted, so that views and understanding of the problem are addressed with the right approach not contrary to their work.
By AATAI JOHN