By Alfred Sasako
A week or so ago, the Solomon Forest Association (SFA) came in for severe criticisms by the Leader of the Independent Group in Parliament, Dr
Derek Sikua, who called for the deregistration of the logging industry’s self-regulatory body.
That was a week ago. This week, SFA remains unfazed in the face of the criticism.
As a matter of fact it has turned a new page, getting on with its charitable work. This time it again stepped in for the third time to help clear the charges relating to a 20-ft container sent for the National Referral Hospital by New Zealand’s charitable organisation, Take My Hands.
This was after the Ministry of Health and Medical Services had encountered difficulties in securing funds to pay port storage charges as well as transport cost to move the container from the Point Cruz wharf.
According to the Ministry, it submitted a payment requisition to the Ministry of Finance and Treasury last July when the container arrived from Auckland.
That request has been sitting in in-trays in the Ministry of Finance and Treasury since then.
The SFA being aware of the need to clear the consignment has offered to pick up the tabs on behalf of the National Referral Hospital.
It is understood the Board of Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA) has acceded to a request that the storage charges be waived in aid of the NRH.
This is the third time SFA has come to the aid of the National Referral Hospital. The first, a large 40ft container with 48 hospital beds and mattresses for the National Referral Hospital arrived in Honiara on 1st October 2016.
SFA donated NZ$8, 000 (eight thousand New Zealand dollars) which met the full freighting and associated costs to ship the container to Honiara. Leftover funds were used for a second container, which arrived in Honiara last December.
Former Police commissioner, Frank Short, who was instrumental in sourcing and securing financial assistance for the donated goods, said then that the SFA had made a second donation totalling NZ$5, 500, which was remitted to Take My Hands.
Mr Short praised the SFA leadership saying it has, “once again, demonstrated its charitable support for local welfare needs and in doing so has clearly shown it is prepared to go the extra mile.”
“Profound thanks are, therefore, due to the SFA and to the NZ charitable trust, ‘Take My Hands,’ in continuing support of the Solomon Islands,” Mr Short said then.
Mr Short said the initial donation facilitated the arrival of the first container on 1 October 2015 of 48 hospital beds and mattresses.
The payment of NZ$5,500 sent by the SFA will cover the cost of the freightage of a 20 ft container of items of furniture, mobility equipment, second hand clothing and more beds.
All these items were requested for local NGO’s but the supply has been held up by TMH because the terrible earthquake in Nepal meant most of the supplies due to be shipped to Honiara had to be diverted at the last minute.
TMH is presently re-stocking a fresh container with the items Mr Short originally requested from New Zealand and it is expected the shipment will take place soon.