Gov’t intends to buy some airstrip lands

Parasi airport
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THE Government is planning to come up with a budget to purchase land on which certain airstrips in the provinces were built.

Most of the provincial airstrips are built on customary land.

Ministry of Communication and Aviation permanent secretary, Moses Virivolomo confirmed in Cabinet yesterday during the signing of the Delegated Cooperation Arrangement between Australia and New Zealand to upgrade airstrips in Seghe, Western Province and Taro, Choiseul province.

Virivolomo said this is part of the government’s policy to upgrade airstrips throughout the country.

He said the intention is to build safe airstrips as some pose risk to planes and passengers because of their surface conditions.

There are 41 airstrips around the country.

However, Solomon Airlines is serving only 21 active airstrips, with more flights going down to Western and Choiseul provinces.

Previously, the New Zealand government has helped tar-sealed Munda international airport and Gizo in Western province to international standard, while the rest remain underdeveloped to date.

The latest partnership by the Government with NZ and Australia to tar seal Seghe and Taro has already raised mixed sentiments on social media.

Some people have complained on government’s seriousness to tarseal airstrips in Western province and Choiseul, while not prioritising the rest of the country.

However, PS Virivolomo earlier said the government cannot upgrade all airstrips in the country because they are not owned by the state.

He said some airstrips, like Gwounaru’u in Malaita, has always been the subject of dispute between landowning groups.

However, he said the government is committed to upgrade other airports when issues are sorted out and acquire them.

Island Sun understands the government plan to upgrade Lata in Temotu and Suavanao in Isabel.