12 Apr 2005

Solomons Guadalcanal province caught in the middle on Oil Palm reopening

2:11 pm on 12 April 2005

A number of landowners and tribal leaders in the Solomon Islands province of Guadalcanal are yet to sign an agreement that would see operations resume at the former SIPL Oil Palm project.

Some tribes say past grievances over land disputes and other issues should be settled first.

And the reopening has also been held up by a court case where some local landowners are challenging the validity of the Landowners Association which is involved in the project.

The provincial premier of Guadalcanal, Abel Arabola, says if the challenge is successful, the project will be further delayed until a new Association is formed.

But he says that the provincial administration is keen to see the project materializes.

"We are kind of caught in the middle. We'd like to protect the interests and resources of our people. At the same time, we'd like to see the company reopen for the benefit of the whole province of Guadalcanal. We want to collect revenue and things to help with providing services to the other parts of Guadalcanal."

The provincial premier of Guadalcanal, Abel Arabola