Hotel work resumes despite stop notice

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WORK is expected to resume on the multi-million-dollar hotel, opposite the Iron Bottom Sound, Rove seafront, west Honiara.

This was despite the Physical Planning Division in the Honiara City Council issuing a “stop notice” to the developer as the building failed after the sea washed underneath the building.

The four-storey building, which can hold 30 to 40 rooms, is owned by the controversial appointed councillor for Honiara City Council and local Chinese businessman John Szetu.

An officer in the council’s Physical Planning Division, who wished not to be named, said a “stop notice” was issued last year based on an engineering report.

However, the officer said it seems the “stop notice” was not effective because of alleged political interference by the appointed councillor within the administration.

On the other hand, the National Government has welcomed the development of the new hotel because it will contribute to the tourism development in the country.

Ministry of Culture and Tourism permanent secretary, Andrew Nihopara said the building should open last September but was delayed due to COVID-19.

Nihopara said the Ministry is still to liase with the owner on the resumption of work on the hotel.

He said the government has supported the owner with exemptions to bring in materials and capital goods last year.

However, since the exemption has expired last year, Nihopara said he will liaise with Ministry of Finance and Treasury to give another exemption to the owner to complete the hotel.

Nihopara said the hotel is very important because it will support the room inventory.

He said since it is owned by a Chinese, the target market will be tourists from China when the hotel opens.

Work on the hotel commenced in 2017 but was disrupted from completion last year due to COVID-19.

Initially, the owner of the hotel wants to complete the development before the country hosts the Pacific Games in 2023.

Szetu refused to talk to Island Sun about the hotel.