Ete slams Government policy on UXO

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MEMBER of Parliament for East Honiara, Douglas Ete has described the government’s policy on Unexploded Ordinances (UXO) as trying to look for a “pin in a haystack”.

Ete made this scathing comment in Parliament last week after the Minister of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Anthony Veke said due to no mapping, the only way to know the deposit of UXO is through ‘sighting and reporting’.

However, Ete, also chairman of Public Accounts Committee, said it is an “old” issue.

He claimed after the signing of the second World War 11 agreement in New York in 1945, there was a case of bomb study made in Solomon Islands.

Ete said this matter needs to be dealt with at the regional level like the Pacific Island Forum.

He said in 1989, a project under SPREP saw divers diving the 101 sunken ships at Iron Bottom Sound.

“I think there needs to be a policy to remove the UXO with the help of USA and Japan,” he said.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare confirmed the issue was discussed at the Forum level and taken up in the Communiqué.

Sogavare said it is up to the Forum Secretariate to take it up with the countries.

In the meantime, the project involving the mapping of Unexploded Ordinances (UXO) nationwide is currently being suspended following an incident two years ago.

The project is part of identifying areas which unexploded bombs are located in some parts of the country.

Minister Veke explained the mapping of UXO survey was supported by the United States (US) government in partnership with the Norwegian People’s Aid.

But it was suspended in 2020 following an explosion incident involving officials working under the project in Honiara.

In late 2021 Veke said, his ministry has resubmitted the government’s interest to reconsider the recommencement of the project.

“And they have responded positively to support us. They will come back to support us.

“Currently a bid is being undertaken to get a partner that will be involved in the project,” he said.

Veke said funds for the project is also being finalized as well.

In addition, he said that some parts of the country are being littered by unexploded bombs from the WWII, 80 years ago.

Veke strong believed there is a need to clear off the unexploded ordinances.

Parliament resumes on 29th August 2022.