By EDDIE OSIFELO
THE Mamara New City project on North West Guadalcanal is expected to alleviate the problem of congestion in Honiara.
Guadalcanal Premier, Francis Mbelande Sade highlighted this during the official launching of the multi-million-dollar project on friday.
“But while we celebrate and congratulate each other, it is also important to be conscious of both the positive and negative impacts of such a development, and to ensure that it is inclusive and does not reproduce the challenges that we have seen with Honiara,” he said.
The ‘Mamara New Capital City’ development is the result of the Mamara-Tasivarongo-Mavo Development Agreement Act 1997.
The agreement was between then national government and the investor Metropolis Pacific Pte Ltd, based in Singapore.
Sade said it is important to note that this Act was passed a year prior to the beginning of the civil unrests that started here on Guadalcanal in late 1998.
He said it was a set of events that brought our country to its knees economically, politically and socially, and led some commentators to label our country as a “weak state”.
“This subsequently resulted in the deployment of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands in mid-2003.
“It is also vital to note the civil unrests were as much result of the inequalities of development and the inequitable distributions of its benefits, as they were about development approaches, we adopt,” he said.
Sade said one such development is that of urban centers and the rural-urban divide it invokes, and the opportunities and challenges associated with it.
He said globally, human societies are becoming increasingly urbanized with more people moving into rapidly growing cities, some of which are overcrowded and most people living in its economic and social margins. In Solomon Islands, most of our people live in rural areas.
“However, urban centers such as Honiara, Auki, Gizo, Noro, Kirakira, etc. are growing.
“There is therefore a need to put in place policies and plans that, not only facilitate this growth, but also alleviates the negative impacts,” he said.
Sade said according to the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat) 2012 Report, Solomon Islands annual urban growth rate was 4.7 percent.
He said this Report is almost 10 years ago, but illustrates the severity of the issues associated with urbanization.
“The Report states that urbanization leads “to increase in urban poverty and informal settlements with a lack of sanitation and infrastructure.”
“In other words, most of our people who move to urban centers, especially Honiara, do not share in the wealth and opportunities that urban centers supposedly produce,” he said.
Sade said this ‘Mamara New Capital City’ illustrates the growth in urban areas.
The City is expected to accommodate 1,000 houses for public servants before 2023 and Mamara Spring Hotel.
So far, the developer has completed 15 houses.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was the guest of honor with Deputy PM, Manasseh Maelanga, ministers, senior government officials, Governor of Central Bank, Dr Luke Forau and other diplomatic officials.