14 Apr 2005

Call for reopening of Guadalcanal oil palm project to be delayed

10:18 am on 14 April 2005

There's been a call for resolution of land disputes in the Solomon Islands province of Guadalcanal before the reopening of the former SIPL Oil Palm project there can go ahead.

A Guadalcanal man, and former SIPL worker, who now lives in New Zealand, John Saki, says there is a risk of tensions flaring again in the province if development starts without outstanding land disputes being resolved first.

A number of Guadalcanal landowners and tribal leaders including some of the Ghaobata chiefs are yet to agree to the project reopening.

Mr Saki says the project should be delayed until there is resolution of disputes over land tenure involving trustees and entitlements conflicting with customary claims.

"A lot of it is foreign and is based on the British system and I think we need to have a homegrown system that will suit the custom and culture of the place."

If you look at the reason why a lot of young guys, during the ethnic crisis, especially from the Guadalcanal plains, took up arms for the cause, is because of land issues and I think a lot of people have not learned from the outcome of the crisis.