BY BEN BILUA
LOGGING developments close to Galatha village in Isabel province’s Hograno district has caught landowners by surprise.
They are calling on authorities to clarify to them how and why two logging companies are operating there without their prior knowledge.
Reports say two logging companies have landed at a Tuape camp in the area on a double felling licence for one concession area arrangement.
A Mr Manasseh Whipell tells Island Sun that landowners are confused despite having allowed the two companies to carry on with their activities.
However, recent reports of alleged illegal logging near west Honiara last week has prompted Hograno landowners to have second thoughts on the two companies.
Whipell stressed that some leaders who are well-versed with the law and process of felling licence do raise some questions about the two felling licences but failed to contact responsible authorities to investigate the issue.
“Our question is, is it legal for two companies to have two different felling license for one concession area?
“We need advises from our lawyers to interpret such issues and our laws that would deal with the issues,” he said.
He also supports the call made by the Leader of Parliamentary Independent Group Hon Dereck Sikua in the media last week.
“Hon Sikua has made an important call and that is to launch and independent investigation within the Ministry of Forestry.
“I see Hon Sikua’s call as a way forward to establish proper regulations and record of logging operation in the country,” Whipell said.
He also called on Isabel Provincial Government to investigate the issue immediately to avoid further confusion and also unsustainable harvesting of logs in the province.
Last week Mr Sikua called on the Public Service Commission to suspend two senior government officials; Commissioner of Forest and Director of Environment, for violating the Forestry act and Environment act.
He made the call following report in relation to the logging operation happening in Kakabona Village, West Honiara.
Sikua stressed that the nature of the operation at Kakabona looks fishy in that relevant regulations and legal requirements have not been adhered to.
He also calls on the Commissioner of Police to immediately intervene and stop the illegal operation and make necessary arrest on the culprit.