Landowners call to reopen Ontong Java airstrip

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What used to be the Ontong Java airport which has been overrun with vegetation.
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BY MAVIS NISHIMURA PODOKOLO

What used to be the Ontong Java airport which has been overrun with vegetation.

LAND owners of Ontong Java airstrip have called to reopen the airstrip of Ontong Java to ‘help breathe life back into the communities of the forgotten people of Malaita Outer Islands’ (MOI).

This call has been made because there is no access to air travel and this year there has not been a ship in months, leaving the landowners struggling.

The airstrip was closed down more than a decade ago due to land dispute.

However, the situation has been resolved by the courts and landowners have approached Mrs Wendy Mount a female intending candidate for MOI in the upcoming National General Election to help them to get the runway back operational.

Speaking to Mrs Mount about this matter, she said since the airstrip was shut the people of MOI have had a lowered standard of living, and have been denied regular access to delivery of goods and medical assistance.

Mount said many people have died over the past years who could have been helped if they had the airstrip opened.

The closure had also stopped a lot of business and trading.

“This means there is less money coming to MOI.”

She adds since the closure of the airstrip is becoming an issue for MOI she will work with the existing court judgement to respect those landowners stated by the judge and as well as must follow the law.

Mount said besides others who have association to the land and also the general community must be respected too this is because they all live in the same atoll.

“This is because we all live in the same atoll so I will be taking an approach to include many others so we can all be part of the project – together we rise, divided we fall,” she said.

At the moment the airport has been overrun by vegetation, trees and ferns and is not available for landing of any type of aircraft now.

However, with some clearing of the vegetation and some proper planning including a small extension of the old runway it can be ready for the Twin Otter and Dash 8.

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