‘Planes can be removed but not after signing of MOA’

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BY GEORGINA KEKEA

AN understanding has been reached between stakeholders in Shortland Islands for the removal of World War two planes on Balalae. In an interview with Island Sun, Chief Edward Kingmele of Maleai village in Shortland Island says after years of wrangling, they have finally reached some understanding for the removal of two planes from Balalae.

“While it is prudent to keep all the war relics on Balalae for people to come and see, we have suffered vandalism amongst other things that have stirred ill feelings between people there. Rather than see the relics destroyed, we will cooperate with the government to save the planes.”

Kingmele said they have agreed to have two of the planes extracted and sent to Australia for rehabilitation. He said it will take two to three years to have the plane rehabilitated.

“And they will return the plane to Honiara to be kept in a museum for people to see,” he said.

Kingmele continued that no matter the people of Shortland islands are quite angry and upset about the war relics, they must understand that the war relics belongs to the government and the state.

He said though the war relics are on their land, the relics belong to the government. However he said, before any loading of the planes take place, government must first of all sign the agreement that they have reached.

“I do not want anything to take place, outside of the agreement,” Kingmele said.

He said they are still to sign the MOA and they are waiting for the government to come back to them with the agreement.

“Government has guaranteed the return of a plane upon its rehabilitation. We want government to keep its word,” Kingmele said.

He said the sooner they sign the MOA, the better so that removal of the planes can be done as soon as possible.

It was in 2007, that Government agreed to the arrangement for the sale of all World War II relics at the community of Balalae in Shortlands to an international group.

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