COURT HALTS TUBI EXPORT

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Stock pile of tubi on San Jorge island. Photo supplied.
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New twist in long-running logging row

By EDDIE OSIFELO

A HIGH COURT judge on 29th November 2022 issued an order halting 5,000 cubic metres of Tubi logs a Malaysian logger was in the process of exporting.

Justice John Keniapisia issued the urgent order after landowners in Isabel sought the High Court’s intervention in the controversial export.

Last week, Government authorities issued permits to logging company Sunrise Investment Ltd to export the illegally-harvested logs to China.

This came following a Court of Appeal ruling that gave the Government the right over the logs.

Following the ruling, the Government acted instantly to issue permits to Sunrise – the same logging company that illegally harvested the tubi trees on San Jorge island – to export the logs.

Sunrise acted quickly and dispatched a carrier MV Victoria VOY 2206 to Korona log pond on San Jorge where the logs were stored, loaded them and moved over to the international port of Noro in Western Province.

But lawyers for the San Jorge landowners argued the logs cannot be exported until after a Judicial Review in the High Court, as ordered by the Court of Appeal.

Yesterday, Justice Keniapisia ordered MV Victoria VOY 2206 not to depart the port of Noro or leave Solomon Islands waters until further orders.

Island Sun understands the vessel is still at Noro when the orders were issued.

This court order was the latest in what has been a long running dispute between landowners on one side, against the Government and logging company on the other.

Landowners have been insisting that Sunrise, whose boss Richard Kong, pleaded guilty to the illegal harvesting of the tubi trees and was fined $50,000 in 2020, should not be given the right to export the logs.

They argued it is immoral and unfair for the Government to support a “thief” who illegally harvested their trees at the first place.

The matter is expected to be heard further in the High Court in coming days.


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