THE soon reopening of the Gwaunaru’u Airport in Malaita Province resulted from the Democratic Coalition for Change Government’s (DCCG’s) new project delivery approach in the province, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare told Parliament on Thursday.
He was responding to a question by the Leader of the Opposition, Hon Jeremiah Manele during question and answer time regarding a statement by the Prime Minister last November that DCCG intended to change the delivery approach on Malaita Projects to allow the Provincial Government become the implementing agency other than the national government and to equip the Malaita Provincial Government with necessary resources for the implementation of projects.
The Prime Minister said the new approach – ensuring active participation by Malaita Province through mutual cooperation between national government officials and the Malaita Provincial executive in addressing development issues and a redirection in the nature of involvement by officers from the Prime Minister’s Office from project implementers to project facilitators – has so far assisted the government in its efforts on the Gwaunaru’u airport reopening and proposed Fiu Hydro Project.
“In relation to the Gwaunaru’u Airport reopening, the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet was instrumental in ensuring that relevant key Ministries such as the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Communication, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey, Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs through the Attorney-General Chamber and Malaita Province came together to address the closure of the airport.
“Malaita Province’s involvement included the organisation of various land-owning groups in the province.
“As a result of the joint participation of the key stakeholders, I am advised that the Gwaunaru’u Airport is expected to open on the 2nd of May.
“As for the proposed Fiu Hydro Project, the shift in ensuring that Malaita Province is an active participant, has resulted in the conducting of survey work in the relevant area.
“It is hoped that after survey work is completed, other important steps such ads negotiation with relevant landowners will commence for the purpose of acquisition.
“The expectation is that land acquisition and registration of the titles should be concluded in June or July this year.”
Further to the new two-prong approach, the Prime Minister said Caucus has approved a Think-Tank with the mandate to further consult with all important stakeholders in Malaita-Malaita Provincial Government and land/resource owners – to come up with an appropriate development model for the effective implementation of major national projects on Malaita and the report of the Think-Tank is expected mid next month.
In addition to the afore mentioned measures, the Prime Minister said the government is exploring the possibility of employing one or two officers to be stationed in Malaita to coordinate the implementation of all DCCG projects for the province together with the Provincial Executive.
He also took the opportunity to emphasise the importance of total commitment by provincial governments and landowning groups for the successful implementation of projects and programmes.
“It should be pointed out that government agencies can only implement projects and programmes when there is total commitment by provincial governments and land-owning groups.
“We continue to face challenges in Malaita in respect of land issues just like any province in the country.
“It is important to recognise that quite often the government has good intentions to bring development and prosperity down to our rural people but these good intentions have been hindered by internal leadership and land disputes.”