Government intends to reopen Barakoma airport soon

Proposed Barakoma Airport at South Vella
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RESOURCE owners and authorities will discuss the opening of Barakoma Airport in Vella, Western Province.

Permanent Secretary of Commerce, Riley Mesepitu said a meeting will be held on July 8 to look at issues that had led to the boycotting of this important development.

He said the meeting is aimed at addressing issues between resource owners and at the same time hearing people’s views on the importance of the airport.

Upgrading of Barakoma domestic airport has been one of the government’s intentions to expand domestic airports within the country.

Barakoma airport is one of four sites on government’s list. The other three sites are Avuavu, Babankira and Yandina.

Assessments were made and ground work have been seen on some of the sites such as Barakoma.

This paper understands that ground work at Barakoma was halted due to disagreement among few resource owners.

Last week, Easter Lelapitu, one of the resource owners, said there was no proper consultation before the Barakoma Airport project was carried out.

She said landowners never gave their consent and it was her decision to stop further ground work and also stop any flight to land on the airport.

Lelapitu said she is happy to work with the national government to solve the impasse and allow the development to continue.

Barakoma airport was built by the US Navy (USN) 58th Naval Construction Battalion on August 15, 1943.

The airport was built purposely for fighter strip – a landing site for US war planes during the war in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.