BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
FANGS Corporation has paid $10,000 fine to the Honiara City Council (HCC) for their ‘wharf’ built opposite the Mokolo Building at the Mataniko riverbank.
Confirming payment of fine was HCC’s Cashier Unit yesterday saying that payment was done on Monday afternoon this week by Fangs Corporation, after going through consultation with HCC’s Planning Unit and pointing out for them that they should have a permit to do such construction.
HCC’s Chief Planning Officer (CPO) could not be reached for comments yesterday however according to the HCC Cashier Unit, such construction by business houses should be consulted first with their Planning Unit and should be approved before a permit is given out for them to continue with their developments.
“For Fangs Corporation, this was not the case seeing them coming to us to pay for the fine after having consultation with our Planning Unit.
“From such situation, we advise in reminding businesses in Honiara wanting to do such operation to must go through our HCC’s Planning Unit first,” said HCC’s Cashier Unit.
The ‘wharf’ built by Fangs Corporation on the Mataniko riverbank opposite the Mokolo building was recently highlighted in the media for posing a huge risk for the Lord Howe settlement and the general public.
Although it is aimed as a retainer wall to protect Fangs’ building, it can also be used as a docking point for OBMs and canoes on which an engineer recently speaking to Island Sun said that its orientation will divert water flow to the houses on the other side of the river.
However, a worker of Fangs Corporation on the other hand also answering questions by this paper recently on condition of anonymity insists that since the retailer wall is near the river mouth, the force of the river will not be strong enough to do much damage as many fear.
“What is being said on Facebook YTTF by some commentators is just speculation of what they think might happen, but this is not so.
“Our engineers have studied the area and have done their calculations on the various levels of the water when it floods and have built the wall to where it is. We could have extended it out further but that would then cause the risk to the other side of the river.
“Our engineers calculate that 10 metres out into the river is enough to protect our building and at the same time not divert much water to the other side of the river. So there is no need to fear and ‘talk spoil’ Fangs.
“We are also worried for the safety of our building too!” the insider says.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Malaita Outer Islands, Hon Martin Kealoe, is also understood to had voiced out concern over Fangs’ retainer wall, calling on responsible authorities to explain the ‘rationale’ behind allowing Fangs to build it.
Mr Kealoe said, “The way the wall is being constructed leaves the Lord Howe settlement which is at the river mouth, clearly exposed to the full force of the river if it floods again in the near future.
“We have already seen what the river can do when it floods and my people who live in the Lord Howe settlement had always suffered from these floods in the past.
“It is not only from damage to private property that my people are concerned about but, also from health risks posed by the rubbish from upstream which by and large ends up on our beach front. Now with this new wall in place, things look to only get worse for my people.
“I therefore call on the responsible authorities to explain the considerations given if any, when approval was granted for this wall to be constructed and if no permit was given, what these authorities will do to ensure the safety of my people.
“My understanding is that river waters are provided for under the River Waters Act [Cap 135]. Under this law, the responsible Minister must issue a permit for the construction of anything that will affect the flow of water.
“With the experience we have had with the Mataniko River in the past, my people are entitled to know if any consideration has been given at all to their safety.
“I am going to be taking this matter up with the responsible authorities to get to the bottom of it as it can be a matter of life and death for my people,” said Kealoe.
In the popular Facebook forum, YTTF, many concerned members share their bafflement over the retainer wall, questioning why it was even allowed by authorities to be built in the first place.