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    SORE BOOTED

    Honiara City Council Clerk Rence Sore. Photo: Charles Kadamana

    HCC terminates controversial Clerk’s contract

    BY ALFRED PAGEPITU

    THE Honiara City Council (HCC) Executive Committee has terminated the contract of Rence Sore as City Clerk.

    Deputy Mayor Francis Idu told Island Sun yesterday the decision was reached on Tuesday, with Mr Sore receiving the termination letter yesterday.

    Sore is being investigated over allegations of corruption. However, Idu said HCC executive were in one-mind to get rid of him.

    Sore did not return phone calls made to him last night for comment.

    Deputy Mayor Idu said the executive is doing what former Mayor, Wilson Mamae hesitated to do.

    “Seven Councillors have decided to terminated Sore after the Councillors Committee members meeting on Tuesday 6th April 2021 held at the HCC Chamber decide to terminate Sore’s contract as the Clerk.”

    Idu said the decision is based on the grounds that there is sufficient evidence to terminate the City Clerk; one of the main reasons is illegal sale of Council land PN. 192010-33.

    “HCC Legal team stressed that any decision to terminate the City Clerk must come with good grounds to avoid any repercussion.”

    Idu said despite this the executive committee favoured terminating the City Clerk with immediate effect.

    “There were two options that were considered, and that is either to suspend the City Clerk and allow for investigations to be carried out or to immediately terminate the Clerk.

    “We the executive committee’s decision now is to terminate the appointment of the City Clerk immediately.

    “During the discussion on the motion put forward to terminate the Clerk, Cr Eddie Siapu stated that it would be in the best interest of the Council and the public to terminate the City Clerk.

    “Most of the councillors who joined the meeting shared the same sentiment that termination of the City Clerk needs to be done immediately to clear way forward for the council.

    “The executive committee resolves to terminate the appointment of the City Clerk with the immediate effect based on reasons stated on April 6, 2021 meeting.”

    Idu said the executive committee resolved to revoke and remove the City Clerk’s signature from the Council’s Bank Account, and resolution was passed by majority.

    Meanwhile, Idu said they have appointed the current Deputy City Clerk to be the acting City Clerk until such time a new Clerk is appointed by the full Council.

    Present at the meeting were Councillors Francis Idu, Dorah Huapii, Robert Oge, Mostyn Saferio, Clement Terewauri, Luciano Sade and Eddie Siapu.

    Ex-officio present were Paul Inifiri, William Floyd and Vincent Kohata.

    Malaita PS challenges Public Service over ‘unlawful’ suspension

    By EDDIE OSIFELO

    MALAITA Provincial Secretary Fredrick Fa’abasua is challenging his suspension.

    The province said Fa’asubua will initiate legal proceeding unless the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Public Service, Nego Sisiolo “withdraws the unlawful suspension on him”.

    Premier Daniel Suidani confirmed this in a statement yesterday after PS Sisiolo issued the suspension letter to Fa’abasua last Friday.

    Suidani said Sisiolo accused Fa’abasua of financial allegations that were “untrue, and in the same letter, he ordered the suspension of our PS, effective immediately”.

    “Unfortunately, in doing so, Sisiolo did not follow the process set out in the Public Service Act and its Regulations,” Suidani said.

    “The Public Service Act and its regulations have a specific legal process set out, by which such accusations can be taken up and acted upon,” he added.

    Suidani said this legal process provides the opportunity for natural justice, and this process was not, repeat was not, followed by Sisiolo.

    He said the Public Service Act sets out a process by which any officer alleging misconduct and having supervisory responsibility over the PS must have a report about this accusation filed to the PS of Public Service. 

    The PS of Public Service in turn must give a minimum period of seven days to the officer to respond.

    “None of these steps have happened or if it had happened the PS has not been aware of it, and therefore our PS has decided to put these issues before the Permanent Secretary of Public Service for him to do the right thing by following the clear process that is set down.

    “Soon these matters will be at court but for now I will say the following:

    1. PS Fa’abasua has been an exemplary public officer and a real servant to Malaita people.
    2. His hard work and integrity has led to the repayment of millions of dollars of outstanding debt left by previous provincial executives.
    3. His dedication and faithfulness have seen the charging of fair business licenses on the logging companies ripping our people’s land.
    4. His careful diligence has given pride and hope to the people of Malaita Province.”

    Suidani said it is sad after all this work, two different ministries have tried to remove PS Fa’abasua from serving the people of Malaita Province.

    Last year in December the Ministry of Provincial Government demanded the removal of PS Fa’abasua back to Honiara.

    Suidani said no reason was given in this demand and the PS kept serving the people of Malaita.

    He alleged this current action by Sisiolo from Ministry of Public Service is similarly motivated. 

    “He (Sisiolo) is trying to remove PS from Malaita Province, this time by trying to suspend him without any proper evidence put against the PS and without even complying with his own regulations.

    “I am not sure of the real reason for these constant attacks on PS Fa’abasua, but the timing of this action by Sisiolo will have some severe effects on the people and province of Malaita,” he said.

    Suidani said his Executive is scheduled to meet today Tuesday, March 16, to pass the budget for Malaita Province.

    “If Sisiolo’s action succeeds, then our PS will be suspended when he should be helping the Executive pass this budget. Malaita Province will then have no budget to spend this year and this will have serious impact on the people of Malaita.

    “In light of this seriousness, I appeal to Sisiolo for the withdrawal of the order to immediately suspend PS Fa’abasua. If he has genuine concerns for upholding the rule of law, I invite him to proceed as set out in the Public Service Act,” he said.

    Suidani said the PS of Public Service without any good reason is attempting to discipline the PS of Malaita Province, yet he is allowing a person who has been found to be a foreigner by the High Court of Solomon Islands to continue holding senior sensitive political jobs in the Prime Minister’s Office.

    “That person too has contravened the Electoral Acts of this country yet the leaders of this country including the PS of Public Service are turning a blind eye on that situation. 

    “The PS of Public Service needs to explain that to the people of Malaita.  Why is he tolerating wilful and reckless behaviour by a foreigner and harassing a national without due process?” he asked.

    However, PS Sisiolo said the suspension decision is due to serious allegations around unaccountable sum of government revenue in which the PS is alleged to have directly involved in.

    “As part of protecting the credibility of the service and upholding better governance, my office deemed it is prudent to suspend the officer from duty to allow investigation into the allegations.

    “As usual, the PS will be accorded natural justice process as we pursue the disciplinary process,” he said.

    PS Sisiolo said the incumbent of the office of the provincial secretary is an extremely important public office because it administers service delivery that affects the affairs of the rural people.

    “Therefore any decision that will affect the said office expected HR capacity is accorded thorough thinking,” he said.

    A statement from the Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening (MPGIS) yesterday stated that the Provincial Secretary for Malaita Province is suspended based on allegations raised by former disgruntled Malaita workers.

    “Based on documents submitted, the Ministry of Public Service (MPS) perused those matters reported by former employees. Based on the allegations, the MPS carried out a preliminary investigation and decided to suspend the Public Officer to give way for a full investigation.

    “These cases were brought forward by concerned and aggrieved citizens and not in any way reflect any attempts by the MPGIS or the Solomon Islands Government to tarnish either the PS or the Malaita Provincial Government,” the statement said.

    Police enforces lockdown at Gizo town

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    Police vehicle on patrol today

    BY BEN BILUA
    Gizo

    ROYAL Solomon Islands Police Force at Gizo has beefed up operations in an effort to stop COVID-19 transmission in the township.

    Police patrol vehicle reached out to all corners of Gizo with the information around 2 pm today advising people not to move around.

    The message was clear and that is people should limit unnecessary movements as localized lockdown is still enforced.

    The approach was taken after people failed to respect the localized lockdown which was imposed as of yesterday 6 pm to Sunday 6 am.

    However, unconfirmed reports reaching Island Sun Gizo, yesterday evening states that the localized lockdown was not legal given that the National Operation Committee (NOC) and Oversight Committee is yet to grant and announce the lockdown.

    Reports alleged that responsible authorities are yet to bless the proposed lockdown.

    It states that NOC will bless the proposed lockdown today.

    NDC assists West deal with COVID-19

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    Western PDOC and WPG Executive during the meeting

    BY BEN BILUA
    Gizo

    WESTERN Provincial Disaster Operation Committee (WPDOC) has received $90,000 from the National Disaster Office to deal with the current COVID-19 outbreak.

    Provincial Secretary of Western Province Jeffrey Wickham announced the support during one of WPDOC’s meetings this week.

    He said the fund will assist WPDOC with logistical support in making sure COVID-19 response plans are effectively carried out.

    “We have received $90,000.00 from the national government through the disaster office to help us better respond to the current outbreak.

    “This funds will help us to implement our needed plans so we better prepare and respond to the situation,” Wickham said.

    He said the situation is critical as such response plans must be effectively carried out immediately.

    Dr Maukera: continue with covid-19 measures

    Director of Malaita Health, Dr Rex Maukera.

    BY SAMIE WAIKORI

    AUKI

    CHAIRMAN of Emergency Operation Centre for Covid-19 at Kilu’ufi hospital Dr. Rex Maukera has called on people in the province to continue practicing covid-19 measures.

    Maukera made the call following the confirmation of two additional positive cases for the province, bringing it to seven cases at the moment.  

    He said the province and the country is facing very critical times and cooperatIon is crucial to deal with the covid-19 situation in the country.

    Dr. Maukera said authorities continue to issue information on the situation and it’s important that the public must be heedful of advice given.

    “I must reiterate that call, especially to the public in Auki and Malaita province to uphold wearing of facemask, social distancing, hand-washing, and limit public movement.

    “And if anyone who is yet to get their vaccines, they must do so.

    “The virus is now in our midst and we must work collectively to face the current situation,” he said.

    Maukera also thanked communities throughout the province for taking up initiatives to implement community covid-19 plans to stop further transmission of the virus.

    He urged leaders from all stakeholders within to put required resources together and work with their people in tackling this situation. 

    Maukera said the provincial health will continue to liaise with people in the province during this critical time.

    China’s assistance arrives in Honiara

    The impact of COVID-19 around the world has claimed and disrupted the lives of peoples and slowed and contracted the global economy, regrettably, Solomon Islands has registered its first COVID-19 related deaths.

    As community transmission of the virus surges in the Solomon Islands, China and Solomon Islands stand in solidarity with the families and governments, and people who have lost loved ones to the pandemic and remain steadfast to work with everyone to fight the pandemic.

    On January 26, 2022, Cabinet Ministers of Solomon Islands, Dr. Culwick Togamana, Minister of Health and Medical Services, and Anthony Veke, Minister for Police, National Security and Correctional Services along with His Excellency  Ambassador LI Ming of the People’s Republic of China Embassy in the Solomon Islands were at Honiara International Airport to receive the emergency humanitarian assistance supplies from the People’s Republic of China.

    China’s Ambassador to the Solomon Islands, His Excellency Mi Ling

    The two countries further celebrate the strength of their relationship with China’s support today of presenting 50,000 Sinopharm vaccines, 20,000 Rapid Antigen Test Kits, 21,000 disposal syringes, 50 tent units, and financial humanitarian assistance of USD320,000 to the Government of Solomon Islands through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

    The consignment also includes the second shipment of Anti-Riot Gears, equipment, and uniforms for the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force to assist the Police in carrying its law and order mandate during this challenging time. The first shipment was done back in late December 2021.

    The partnership is given in solidarity and with a “umi tugeda” spirit of togetherness, echoing the global mantra that no one is safe until everyone is safe.

    The medical supplies and assistance received by the Solomon Islands from China support the country’s efforts to halt the surge of the virus within our communities and isolate and eliminate the virus from our shores.

    The two countries further agree to keep working together in tackling the pandemic with China’s consideration of an additional 300,000 Rapid Antigen Test Kits and the contribution of building a large tent field hospital.    

    In responding to Solomon Islands’ immediate needs, the Solomon Islands welcome China’s provision of 1000 bags of rice, 300 cartons of tuna of food to support vulnerable households during the pandemic.

    Solomon Islands welcome the arrival of the Chinese Technical and expertise team to further assess National Referral Hospital (NRH) as part of the NRH improvement initiative, water and security needs of the country as we deepen cooperation with the goal of strengthening our collective preventive action to control and eliminate the pandemic and build quality lives in a secured environment for the people of Solomon Islands.  

    Solomon Islands Government wishes to use this platform to urge all its national who have to be vaccinated to get vaccinated, it is the best protection and shield for our families, our country, and ourselves against the onslaught of the virus.  

    Solomon Islands recognize all partners including China for past support in the last two years in supporting the construction of the PCR lab, isolation wards of NRH, and supporting earlier shipments of vaccines and medical supplies.

    Minister of Police, Anthony Veke

    The takes this opportunity to acknowledge all security partners including China who have worked closely with the Government in maintaining security, law, and order and continue to build up the capacity and capability of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force.

    The Solomon Islands once again thank China for the humanitarian assistance and commitment to keep building a strong resilient Solomon Islands with the necessary infrastructure and security to allow peace, progress, and prosperity to shape Solomon Islands’ future.  

    Joint Media Release Between Solomon Islands Government and PRC Embassy in the Solomon Islands

    Kilu’ufi Gen X-PERT machine to be ready soon

    Kilu'ufi hospital

    BY SAMIE WAIKORI

    AUKI

    THE Gen X-PERT machine at the Kilu’ufi hospital in Auki will be put to use soon, enabling testing for COVID-19 in the province.

    Chairman of the Emergency Operation Centre for Covid-19 at Kilu’ufi hospital Dr Rex Maukera confirmed this to Island Sun today.

    He said the machine was installed last year but due to the lab not meeting standards for infection and prevention control aimed at protecting health workers, the machine was not used until now.

    Maukera, however said with the current need for the use of the machine they started work on the lab last week and it is nearing completion.

    He said as long as the work is done and it meets the required standards, tests for COVID-19 will be conducted at Kilu’ufi hospital.

    Maukera also said that training for lab technicians who will be using the lab is currently happening at Kilu’ufi hospital.    

    He said they are looking forward to completing work on the lab and the training of technicians this weekend to prepare the machine for use by next week.

    The Gen X-PERT machined was installed at Kilu’ufi hospital as part of preparations by the Ministry of Health (MHMS) through the provincial health for covid-19 in the province.

    The machine has multiple uses as it can also be used for screening resistant TB cases.

    2 additional vaccination sites identified

    The roundabout at the Honiara City Council

    BY MAVIS N PODOKOLO

    TWO additional vaccination sites were identified to accommodate unvaccinated and partial vaccinated people in Honiara when the lock-down is lifted.

    This was confirmed by Diane Maggie Row from the Public Health Promotion Department of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.

    “We have two new additional vaccinated sites in Honiara, they are Kukum SDA car park and Honiara City Council Car Park, “Row said.

    She said as of January 31st, next week if the lockdown is to be lifted these sites will be opened for people to go and get their jabs

    These two additional vaccination sites are for those living in Honiara.

    In addition, the Ministry of Health has advised those who will be vaccinated to wear face masks, maintain social distancing, and also frequently wash their hands when queuing for their vaccine dose.

    Two new cases for Auki

    No lockdown for Auki town.

    BY SAMIE WAIKORI

    AUKI

    AUKI town has recorded an additional two positive cases of covid-19 after results from six swabs sent to Honiara last week came back.

    Chairman of Emergency Operation Centre for Covid-19 at Kilu’ufi hospital and Director of Malaita Provincial health, Dr. Rex Maukera confirmed this to this paper today.

    He said upon contact tracing and swabs carried out on six people last week, the EOC has sent six samples to Honiara for testing and now has returned with the results.

    Maukera said the result was; two returned positive and four were negative.

    He said the result has shown an additional two cases to the first five and Auki is at the moment with seven cases.

    Maukera said although the increase happened at a slower pace compared to Honiara, Auki town and the province at large are still at high risk with the virus.

    “With that, I call on residents in Auki and people from the province to continue to listen out for health information on the current situation and practice covid-19 measures,” he said.

    Maukera also said that recently they had completed contact tracing on some people and they will soon carry out testing (swabs) on them to send for testing.

    He said at the moment the original five cases and two new ones are in stable conditions as they continue to monitor them.

    COVID HOSTPOTS ON THE RISE IN HONIARA

    Community transmission in Honiara is projected to increase in coming days

    Health authorities have identified 13 additional covid hotspots within Honiara city since Tuesday this week, taking the total to 38 hotspots.

    The 13 areas include the Lungga Market area, Mbokona, Tuvaruhu, Pakoe, Kukum SDA head quarter, Kombevatu, Lengakiki, Number 3, Mbokonavera 2, Tanuli, Panatina heights, Ranadi APCO area and the Pacific Casino area.

    Health and Medical Services Minister Dr. Culwick Togamana today urged residents in these areas to limit movement and interaction in order to reduce the chances of getting infected.

    “All in these hotspot areas, you are strongly advised to limit movements within your community and beyond. Remain at home and strictly observe COVID-19 public health care measures at all times,” Dr. Togamana said.

    Contact tracing data collected since the outbreak last week has indicated a jump in hotspot figures which predicted more transmission in the coming days.

    –GCU

    Gizo/kolo MP assists stranded constituents with food supplies.

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    Gizo and Kolombangara food distribution team distributing food supplies

    BY BEN BILUA
    Gizo

    MEMBER of Parliament for Gizo/Kolombangara has reached out to her constituents who are stranded in Honiara with food supplies.

    Schulte Maetoloa, a Gizo/Kolombangara constituent today received a bag of rice and mixed goods which includes noodles and taiyo.

    “The ratio of goods depends on the number of households – meaning if you are with your family, you will receive extra,” he said.

    Maetoloa said distribution of food supplies begins today and will continue tomorrow until everyone receives their shares.

    He said a lot of people were not planning to stay long in Honiara but were caught in the current COVID-19 outbreak.

    “Like many others, I came up to Honiara for a two weeks training on Quality Seafood but then this outbreak happened which leads to a lockdown and now we are stranded.

    “I was not planning to stay long in Honiara but I have no choice. I have to follow advice from responsible authorities in an effort to contain this virus,” Maetoloa said.

    He described the assistance from Lanelle Olandrea Tanangada as life serving because the assistance comes at the right time when people of her constituency needed help.

    “On behalf of stranded Gizo/Kolombangara constituents in Honiara, we wished to register our acknowledgment to Hon Lanelle and her team for the support.

    “The food supplies will sustain us until that time we can be able to return home,” Maetoloa said.

    He suggests other Members of Parliament should also reach out to their constituents who are stranded in Honiara.

    $1.9m for covid-19 preparation: Malaita health

    Kilu'ufi hospital

    BY SAMIE WAIKORI

    AUKI

    CHAIRMAN of the Emergency Operation Centre for Covid-19 at Kilu’ufi hospital and, Director of Malaita Provincial health, Dr Rex Maukera says the $1.9m passed by the Malaita Provincial Government will be used for covid-19 preparation in the province.

    Dr Maukera told Island Sun the fund will go towards upgrading and developing covid-19 facilities at Kilu’ufi hospital and in Auki.

    He said the virus is already in Auki and a hasty preparation is very much crucial to deal with the situation.

    Maukera said the Kilu’ufi hospital has facilities for covid-19; however, there is a need for improvement for the current situation. 

    He said as preparation mounts, the provincial health team will ensure both covid-19 operation and normal hospital services are functioning.

    He said the Malaita Provincial Disaster Operation Centre (PDOC) is at the moment working on the implementation of the fund.

    In a statement, the MPG said it has passed the $1.9 million budget to counter the current covid-19 situation in the province.

    The endorsement of the budget was made upon a submission made from PDOC to support its current covid-19 operation for Malaita province.

     According to the statement, the budget would give the operation centre adequate finance to deal with issues concerning logistics, accommodation and others.

    It said one of the main items that need support is preparing the Aligegeo School into a processing facility to accommodate any big numbers of patients that might be infected and sick.

    Auki town has recorded five positive cases since Friday last week and patients are reported to have been in stable condition.

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