Rural NW Guale women caught in logging concession conflict

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By Alfred Sasako

A conflict over logging concession in North West Guadalcanal has spilled over affecting hundreds of rural women who were looking forward to using a new market being built for them by their Member of Parliament, Bodo Dettke.

The battle is between MP Dettke and the Honiara City Council Mayor, Andrew Mua.

Mr Dettke last night vowed to fight to the end in protecting the interests of the innocent women from his Constituency, estimated to be around 800.

The former Government Minister did not rule out the matter heading to the courtroom this week.

The City Council gave Dettke 24 hours as of yesterday to remove a fence, which his firm, Success Company, had built along part of the western banks of the Mataniko River.

Success Company is developing a temporary market for the North-West Guadalcanal Constituency women to use, pending consideration of a new location.

“These are innocent women. They have the right to have a place where they could use to sell their market produce. The Lord Mayor must be suffering memory lapses in that recently the City Council closed down the White River Market, which the rural women from Guadalcanal were using.

“Rural women from Guadalcanal actually forced the market to reopen the next day,” Dettke told Island Sun.

“The City Council should have realised that I have merely provided a location in my private property for the rural women in my Constituency to use until such time a new location is found. Not only have I provided a place, I have actually developed the area at my own cost.

“To shut down the market as the Council has ordered is injustice to all the women in North-West Guadalcanal.

“Why target me when you don’t have to look far to see illegal construction along the river banks? Some of the buildings you could see from here had 10 metres of concrete protruding into river. That is something that the Honiara City Council needs to look into instead of victimising rural women who are innocent,” the angry MP said.

Dettke said if the City Council were to enforce building regulations, half the buildings in Honiara would end up being demolished.

“I know of buildings and structures that did not comply with the building regulations, but were nevertheless allowed because the City Council decided to look the other way,” Dettke said.

“The market we are building does not block the traffic in either direction of the new Mataniko Bridge.

“I can only conclude that the City Council is having a go at me for two reasons. The first thing is a conflict over logging concession in North-West Guadalcanal and the second is that I did not support his candidacy for the post of Governor General when the incumbent’s term was renewed.”

Lord Major Mua could not be reached for comment last night.

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