Congratulations Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela.
YOUR trip to Japan for the PALM8 Leaders’ summit or at least the benefits from sideline meetings has given Solomon Islands what to hope for in terms of infrastructure development, largely in Honiara and climate change overall in the region.
Solomon Islands will be a beneficiary of the Y1.3 trillion regional funding initiative which Japan announced this week. Roll out of the program is expected in 2020 – just two years away.
There is more for the Solomon Islands, an initiative between Solomon Power and Hitachi Ltd to work together in developing a solar power plant in Solomon Islands. These are commendable initiatives and congratulations to the Prime Minister and his delegation.
But hang on.
All these juicy announcements were made against the background of a nation sinking deeper and deeper into what can only be described as an economic quagmire which seems to get thicker by the day.
Avid readers of our social and mainstream media would notice a lot of things do not align well with all the good announcements overseas.
Take for example the announcement by the National Referral Hospital this week. Its Chief Executive Officer Dr Steve Aumanu has told the media that the NRH would no longer be responsible for meeting the return sea fares of patients referred to the NRH.
The decision comes into force on Monday 21 May 2018. It does not mean you are barred from coming to the National Referral Hospital. No. But it does mean that you don’t expect the NRH to reimburse your sea fares or pay the cost of your return.
It simply means you will be responsible for meeting your own costs.
A look beyond Honiara on the power front paints quite a picture in terms of power supplies. The media reported this week that the Chief Executive Officer of Solomon Power, Pradip Verma signed an agreement with Hitachi Ltd to jointly develop a solar plant in Solomon Islands.
It is great news. But it is not so great news for life-saving institutions such as Atoifi Hospital in East Malaita for example. The hospital also hosts an extension of the Pacific Adventist University (PAU).
For some weeks now the Atoifi Adventist Hospital is going through a severe power crisis, denying students and hospital staff power. PAU students, and there’s more than 40 odd students there, are due to sit their exams next week. But they could not do their studies at night.
Hospital staff too are denied power supplies due largely to the fact that the Hospital is only using an 80KVA generator to run the hospital. That was about two weeks ago when I visited there then. I am not sure that things have changed since.
It is quite possible that other hospitals in the rural area, run by churches, face the same or similar challenges. Why can’t SIEA take the initiative in visiting such institutions with a view to setting up power supplies to these life-saving institutions?
State-Owned Enterprises with potential rural constituents such as the Solomon Islands Electricity Authority, Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA) and so on should begin looking beyond their offices with tinted glass windows to see the greater needs of the people.
We cannot expect the so-called development to take place unless government instrumentalities look beyond Honiara and or other urban centres. Eighty-five per cent of the nation’s resources are currently locked up in the rural areas.
Unless and until the camaflouge of neon lights are removed from our vision so that we could see the common good, nothing will move.
That is why I hold the view that until government leadership looks beyond the RCDF grants and its conscience-numbing effects on the way ahead we could be in for a long haul.
So Mr Prime Minister you are bringing a lot of good news for the country, but who benefits ultimately?