LANDOWNERS of Gwaunaru’u airport in Auki Malaita Province have continued to play down attempts by Government to re-open flight services there.
Landowners continued to maintain their refusal position to sign any agreement paving the way for re-opening of flight services to the Province.
Acting Permanent Secretary (PS) Ministry of Communication & Aviation (MCA) Moses Virivolomo said government had spent money bringing the landowners over to Honiara from Malaita province to negotiate and sign an agreement for the resumption of flights to Gwaunaru’u but unfortunately they still refused to sign anything.
“Government does beg people to open up their land for development, but it must be realised that Government is owned by you and me,” Mr Virivolomo said.
“He said it is really the land and resource owners who receive benefits from the use of their land and resources,” Mr Virivolomo added.
Meanwhile, Premier for Malaita Province Peter Ramohia blamed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Government and some landowners in 2012 as the root core of the on-going problem.
Premier Ramohia said it was Government through the Ministry of Aviation which had breached that signed MOU.
He pointed out that under the signed MOU agreement, contracts in the maintenance of the airfield were awarded to the landowners of Gwanaru’u airfield.
He said that binding agreement under the MOU was breached when the Civil Aviation management somehow re-awarded the maintenance tasks to outside contractors.
Premier Ramohia alleged government’s failure to comply with honouring settlement of outstanding payments due to the landowners in the original MOU agreement had also added fuel to the deadlock.
Premier Ramohia said the underlying facts have been the main hurdle preventing resumption of flight services to Gwanaru’u airfield.
He said Government must be transparent and honest in dealing with the real issues of settling outstanding claims by landowners.
He said that is the only course of action guaranteeing a possibility of resolving the long standing stalemate.
Premier Ramohia said Government must refrain from using the pretext of a pending High Court case between two tribal landowning groups over ownership of Gwanaru’u land as an excuse to further delay payment of the outstanding claims.
The Solomon Star understands these very sentiments have been raised over media reports carried by this paper in the past which kept cropping up again and again.
By AATAI JOHN