By Alfred Sasako
FORMER North-West Guadalcanal MP, Siriako Usa has reacted angrily to reports that a logging company operating on his land in the Kakabona area, west of Honiara, is doing so illegally.
“We are legitimate and legal,” Mr Usa told Island Sun in an exclusive interview yesterday.
The former politician was responding to a front page article published by Island Sun newspaper yesterday. In it, an unnamed company was reportedly operating illegally in the area, causing environmental damage to the waterways and a popular beach for picnic goers.
Usa yesterday named the company as New Ocean (SI) Ltd, which the Tabilo Timber Sawmilling has sub-contracted to harvest the 1,000 hectare concession which covers Lacho, Adichichi, Poitamani, Kokaleku, Poihue, Kuburokota Loma and Bisi Customary lands.
Under a subcontracting arrangement entered into between New Ocean (SI) Ltd and Tabiro Timber Sawmilling, Usa is the Licensee. The arrangement was approved by the Ministry of Forest and Research and executed on October 16, 2017.
“Pursuant to Part 4 sub-section 10(za) of the Forest Resource and Timber Utilisation (Felling Licenses) Regulation 2005, as directed, approval is granted for subcontracting arrangement made between New Ocean (SI) Ltd and Tabilo Timber Sawmilling under felling licence A10707.
“This approval means that New Ocean (SI) Limited is authorised to carry out the harvesting functions under felling Licence A10707 (which) covers Lacho, Adichichi, Poitamani, Kokaleku, Poihue, Kuburokota Loma and Bisi Customary Lands, in Guadalcanal Province.
“Please note all other functions remain unaffected,” according to a letter signed by Lucy Takaoa of the Ministry’s Licensing Unit. The letter is dated November 14 last year.
“If there’s any illegitimacy in what we are doing it would be caused by the Ministry, not us. We have followed the processes to the letter,” Usa said.
“This is not an overnight project. We have worked on this for the last 10 years. It is linked to a housing scheme for land owners.”
On the matter of environmental damage to the waterways and the popular picnic beach, Usa said it was a non-issue.
“Officials from the Ministry of Environment and Conservation visit there almost every day of the week and they have not raised any issues with us,” he said.
New Ocean (SI) Ltd’s director, Alan Ngu told Island Sun yesterday the company has done everything in accordance with the requirements of the law.
Mr Ngu yesterday announced that his company would commence a housing scheme for the land owners of the Kakabona concession in March this year.
The company has done a similar scheme for landowners in the Tangarare Area, also on West Guadalcanal.