Call for halt on construction disrespecting WWII tunnel

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BY BARNABAS MANEBONA

The WWII US Marines 4D Lunga underground tunnel that is said to be currently disrespected by construction. Photo from Facebook

A current construction taking place at Lunga has raised calls for a halt to the development as it is said to have disrespected an American WWII underground tunnel site used by code talkers.

The Lunga Underground Tunnel said to be known as Lt Cnl: Vandergrith is a US Marines 4D underground tunnel which was the Navahor Red Indian Code Talkers Observation Position during World War II (Lunga River Bunker).

However in recent days, the underground tunnel has been constructed over by a group said to be from Asia.

Concerned citizens now demand for the tunnel site to be protected first before any construction takes place or else historical sites of value will continue to be destroyed in Solomon Islands.

The people’s concern being fed up from such usual practice has even now got them into such idea as taking the law into their own hands. This is because they say there seems to be no responsible authority being concerned over the disrespectful construction currently.

In querying to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s Permanent Secretary Andrew Nihopara over the issue, he said to Island Sun that the WWII underground tunnel threat by the construction only came to their attention yesterday.

He affirms that they were never consulted over the development.

“I had already met with the Museum Director in which we have already consulted the Guadalcanal Province police as the matter is now at the Attorney General (AG) Chamber,” said Nihopara.

“If we were first consulted then we would had fenced the underground tunnel site before any construction took place around it.”

According to the PS, a protection order had already been given during 2004 (designated restricted areas order) under the protection of wreck and relic site areas in which there should be a map showing sites that should not be destroyed.

The ministry of Tourism is now waiting for a response over the matter from the AG’s Chamber before they will continue in their move to address the concerned issue.

On social media’s Yumi Toktok Forum, the situation has received a lot of criticism over the destroyed WWII historical site.

“This is a historical site, HCC, G-Province and the Government must step in to stop this work! These people do not care about our heritage,” said one comment on social media.

“What can we say or do guys? We are so helpless. Our people don’t see the importance of such sites. And where are the authorities who have power over such sites? They should have secured and kept this site,” raised another concern.

In whichever way the outcome of this issue will be, Solomon Islanders are not happy and they stand their ground that taboo or historical sites of this country should not be destroyed.

“These sites are our history as they also have the potential to build the economy of Solomon Islands,” said locals.

“We now call for a halt to the development and responsible authorities must step in to solve this issue even if it takes to have to go to court.

“This is one of the US Marines very famous respectable sites from WWII’s relics.”

Citizens are appealing for investors that they must get more advises from Solomon Islands National Museum who is the owner of the country’s protected historical sites.

“The historical sites must be seriously cared for as these are our local attraction sites for visitors, so we urgently want the construction to be called by responsible authorities so that they tell them to respect the Lunga underground tunnel.”

Locals added that destroying such significant sites and continuous causing of unnecessary pollution by such constructions is also not good for Solomon Islands preparations towards the 2023 Pacific Games.

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