BY LYNTON AARON FILIA
KAO land party in North Malaita have announced plans to close down the Kwailabesi SDA service on December 1 this year due to what they claim ‘the lease agreement is not genuine and already expired last year’.
Kao tribe has given a three-month mercy period for the Seventh Day Adventist Mission which will lapse on December 1. After then, services will be stopped and the land title will be returned to the customary land owners.
This decision by the Kao landowners comes following several meetings between them and the SDA authority since September last year after the lease expired, which have failed to bring about any compromise.
Due to these failed meetings, the Kao landowners have decided ‘enough is enough’ and they will take back their land.
Spokesman for Kao tribe Mr Ambrose Dolofera Oiofa said, “I am giving a three-month notice to SDA Mission; if they did not respond from the letter delivered last week by December 1 every service will be closed down.
“They already know our demands but how they respond to me during our meetings is what I don’t accept.
“I decided to bring a stop to this issue, and if they think of relocate it should start now to December but I still give them time if they want to talk, otherwise I stick to my same decision.”
Oiofa said he welcomes anyone who wants to dispute the proposed close-down, adding, they are willing and prepared to face any court case from other parties involved.
“Anyone wants to dispute, I am prepared or if any new party wishes to dispute my intention of closing Kwailabesi, they are welcome to file any court case; I am ready and willing to be answerable,” he said.
Oiofa acknowledges the services which the SDA Mission has provided in Kwailabesi to the people around the Lau/Mbaelelea area, especially in terms of health and religious aspects.
However, he maintains that the land lease is a vital issue which the church authority must settle with the landowners.
Oiofa explains that several issues which they have with the church authority need to be sorted out, one of which is recognition for the Kao landowners and reception of rentals by other landowning parties, which Kao LOs view as not right.
“For example, according to lease agreement in 1933 is mostly for housing, and 1937 is mainly for cultivation. So where is the destruction of the airport come from under the two different leases?
“I see like it’s a breach of agreement and I am as a rightful owner after I go through proper court case from local court to high court, I see the high court decision with other levels have recognised our party as genuine rightful owner of the place.
“That is the main idea I want church to carefully look at, though I’m not the trusty, since the lease is expired I am suggesting church should flexible with me and my party as a new party.”
The SDA Mission could not be reached for comments throughout this week despite follow ups to get their side of the issue.