Report on the land acquisition and registration to the commissioner of lands for approval of APID’s legal lease to do bauxite mining on lands in West Rennell have revealed opposite to claims made against.
It showed appointed land acquisition officer; Laury Penrose Palmer had followed procedures.
This process however has come under heavy criticisms from the Renbel provincial government, West Rennell people and landowners, alleging the acquisition officer making up the report.
Landowners claimed hearings were never posted out publicly as notice to notify people in West Rennell.
It prompted the Renbel provincial government and landowners of West Rennell forming a taskforce in querying the acquisition process, taking the matter to the national government for reconsideration.
But the documents indicated there were public hearings held and that claims against not posting any notice to aware landowners are not true.
“The acquisition officer explained that he did publish the notice and posted it at Labagu, Teamagu, Tigoa, Matahenua and at Kagua on 2nd October 2014.”
According to the document, the acquisition officer held two separate hearings as proceedings to the acquisition process as required to law.
First part of acquisition was at Tigoa on October 1st 2014 and the second at Tigoa women’s centre on October 15th 2014.
Three additional hearings were also held on landowners request to clear their queries and doubts, with enough time given outside the normal process.
“…on 1st October 2014, at 1:30 pm the first public meeting at Tigoa was conducted. There were 14 people attended this very important meeting.
“The purpose for the meeting is to identify the trustees who will sign the agreement for lease with me. This was done in accordance with section 62 of the Act.
“Having done that, areas of interest were shown was demarcated on the map to the landowners. Having agreed upon the area the landowners signed the agreement for lease with me.”
Following the agreement, another notice to inform the landowners and the public was put out, it noted.
“I have made an agreement for lease and that I will be conducting another meeting to hear any claim.”
This was the second public hearing conducted to get claims on the four signatories as trustees that signed for the lease with the acquisition officer.
Signatories are Obed Saueha, Silvania Kaipua, Dicter Maitaki and William Tino.
At the second hearing only one claim was made against Dickter Maitaki who was a trustee and signatory, it noted.
“…ground of claim is they do not want Maitaki to represent them. They want to replace him with somebody else and time was given according to their request.
“I agreed and given them two weeks to appoint their new trustee.”
Meeting resumed on 3rd November 2014 as requested but became tense with matters of discussions and raised were not in line with the purpose of the hearing – to make claims against the trustees.
Issues raised of no relevance to the procedure of land acquisition like mining awareness, not the responsibility of the acquisition officer were raised, a process should already been done by the responsible ministry.
And repeatedly state not aware of any notices made public, it stated.
“The issue of notice that has not been published is not true, for that reason I fail to see why the claimants did not see the notice.
“I explained to them that it is not the function of acquisition officer to carry out the awareness meetings. It is the function of the geologist and the environment officer.”
Another additional meeting on 15th December 2014 was the final, only one objection to Obed Saueha as trustee which then replaced by Joseph.
It concluded that most matters raised during the hearings were inappropriate and does not go in line with the purpose of the hearing meetings by the acquisition officer, revealed the document.
Determination was then made with notice served and posted out for public, if have any objections may do so within another period of three months as appeal to the Magistrate court.
“This notice informed the public that any person who wish to appeal against any act or determination by me may appeal to Magistrate’s court at Honiara before 16th March 2015.”
By BRADFORD THEONOMI