A ROW between loggers and villagers at Graciosa Bay, Temotu Province, is now under control as of Tuesday.
A well-placed source from Latatold the Solomon StarXiang Lin Timber Company conducted its first transshipment of logs inside the bay without consent from the chiefs.
“The community elders seized the tug boat on Monday night and demanded Xiang Lin to pay a compensation of $250,000 before their tug boat is released from the bay,” the source said.
“Chiefs of Graciosa Bay were unhappy with the Santa Cruz man who made the deal to transship log product in the bay,” he added.
“Villagers were surprised to see the large boat entering the harbor and started their transshipment.
“Also elders claimed the ship trespassed and will cause potential pollution to the marine environment,” the source said.
Malaysian Xiang Lin Timber started conductingtheir felling operations since last year at Bekapoa land, North East of Santa Cruz Island.
“Chiefs accused a fellow Santa Cruz man being the traitor for signing the deal to have the logs shipped inside the bay.
“So the community leaders are working closely with the logging firm to pay the demand,” the Temotu source said.
The boat when seized under the chief’s order is being moored at the old Mateboi wharf in Graciosa Bay.
A statement from the Police Media Office said:
“Police at Lata, in the Temotu Province have responded to a dispute in Graciosa Bay on Santa Cruz Islands today (16 January) between locals and a logging company, where a tow boat was held up by the locals.
“Police assisted in the mediation of the dispute and both parties involved have reached an agreement which resulted in the release of the tow boat.
“Police at Lata appeal to both parties to respect their agreement and resolve the issue through a peaceful dialogue,” the police statement said.
Police will continue to monitor the situation.
The logging operation on the island was a subject of row between landowners in past years and just last year was granted business license by the government of Premier David Maina.
By TEDDY KAFO