Following the first ever Honiara City Boundary consultation between the government and Tandai Land owning tribes last week, Tandai Landowners have resolved to delay any proposed, physical demarcation on the current town boundary pending another round of consultation with the Government.
According to the association documents produced during the consultation were not in line with what the land owners know.
It claimed a previous task force sanctioned under the Prime Minister Office few years back called the Constitutional reform Unit (CRU) had in-depth and sufficient knowledge on the issue, however due to constraints in funding; the unit temporarily ceased the consultation.
The consultation as resolved by Landowners must be resume in order to carefully examine the issue concerning the illegal Honiara City Boundary expansion described by the land owners.
A statement from the Tandai Land Trustees from North West Guadalcanal after the consultation welcomed the meeting and thanked government officials both from the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Lands, Honiara City Council, CRU, Guadalcanal Provincial Assembly, Tandai House of Chiefs, Malango and Ghaubata House of Chiefs for their representation and contribution during the consultation.
However despite the lengthy presentations and deliberations Tandai Land trustees have resolved to request a full review into the issue of the Honiara Town Boundary Mapping presented under the (legal notice 83 /73 and 44/82 plan No. 1981) for government to clearly recognize the fact that it had Expanded Honiara Town Boundary more than twice, without land owners consent.
Spokesperson for the group and member of the Tandai Land Trustees and Deputy Premier Hon. John Nano claimed government had done well with landowners by accepting to meet despite after parliament dissolution. However, in order to fully resolve the issue it must not be rushed.
“I believe a lot of people even officials within the recently introduced PMO Consultation Team don’t really understand the magnitude of this issue concerning Honiara City Boundary. I must reiterate that we are talking about the issue of illegal expansions 34 years or so, under according to the ‘Honiara City Council constitutional report 2011’ in this very place we land owners call home and now Solomon Islanders and the world call Capital City of Solomon Islands, Honiara,” said Nano.
“What landowners want is for government to recognize and compensate them for the government’s use of their land as its capital city. This particular occasion was witnessed through a joint GPG and land owning tribes traditional ‘Chupu presentation ceremony’ held in 2011.
“Our elders agreed to a fixed boundary when this township was established, however there have been expansions which disappoint the landowners a great deal because they (Landowners) were not even consulted on as indigenous landowners and this is what frustrates them most,” he added.
Hon Nano claimed, that during Parliament discussions in early September, Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo rightly declared that the only crown land government paid from traditional landowners is the current land LR389
Hon. Nano claimed during the workshop officials from the Prime Minister’s Office proposed demarcation of Honiara Town Boundary, which Tandai Land owners saw as a total neglect in discussing the contested expansions which were not properly acquired.
“We can’t resolve this issue if government Bureaucrats want to jump to conclusion without properly addressing the issue at stake. The landowners want compensation for the encroachment into customary land without proper consultation,” said Nano
Before continuing into the process of demarcation, government should first compensate landowners of specific land within the proper town Boundary which was sold to them by temporary occupants in the past. Such agreements were done without prior knowledge and anticipation of landowners and must be resolved.
Hon Nano explained that it is a risk to physically demarcate the present Honiara town boundary because of its legal implications (the Landowners might lose the land without being recognized as land owners and also not deriving any benefits from it.
The next government should seriously take this very simple yet conflicting fact into priority consideration as a matter of paramount importance.
Nano claimed land owners deferred to agree to the government’s proposal stated on map 1973 plan No. 1981, because it was not consistent with documents which currently government claimed unavailable in their archives.
On the other hand (Loni Sitana, Secretary to the Tandai Land Trustees) combined a statement from Tandai Land Trustees, Tandai Tribal Association, Tandai House of Chiefs and other affiliated Land Owners who asserted that the issue of land on Tandai is not complex but only made complicated through misunderstanding by government Bureaucrats.
“We the landowners are not confused with the Honiara town boundary. We know very well where our land is and where the boundary is. it is the National government, the HCC , the government Bureaucrats and the public at large who may not sure of the real Honiara town boundary. Many people erroneously think that Honiara does not have traditional Landowners. Those of us present at the meeting are representatives of those land owners. We are displaced in our own land and are being deprived of the use of and proceeds from our land. Therefore the Government should give us special consideration in benefits from the Honiara town,” said Joseph Nielsen, a member of the Tandai Landowners.
Meanwhile Mr. Nano Uttered that bureaucrats should be plain with whatever understanding and proposals they may assert, in order to ensure a win-win situation for both parties.
“I hope that if such issues of Land are addressed both for Guadalcanal and Other Provinces here in Solomon Islands, then it will rightly reflect us as the ‘happi Isles’ where development will nourish and we can prosper into the future. Quoting an expression by the late explorer Alvarado de Mendana, Solomon Islands will stand bright as the ‘Chain of Isles’, said Nano.