Mbetilonga landowner urges government to deport foreigners breaking the law

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By Alfred Sasako

A Mbetilonga landowner is urging the Government to deport the owner of One Pacific Company Ltd, a logging company allegedly engaged in illegally logging government land in east Guadalcanal.

The land is located in Parcel Nos. 191-060-01, 191-060-02 and 191-060-03, once earmarked as the catchment area for the Komarigi Hydro scheme. The government has since abandoned the hydro scheme project, but continues to hold a 75-year lease over the land.

One Pacific Company Ltd and Mbetilonga Landholdings Group Community Company Ltd have signed a five-year deal under a Mutual Technology and Management Agreement on April 14, 2015.

It is not clear whether One Pacific Company Ltd is a member of the Solomon Forest Association (SFA), the industry’s self-regulatory body.

The landowner who wants to remain anonymous told Island Sun yesterday Mbetilonga landowners have received no benefits whatsoever from the logging operations, which began exporting round logs since November 24, 2015.

He said the owner of One Pacific Company Ltd, Wong Hook Ping, should be deported for misleading non-landowners into signing a deal which benefits no one but the company and its workers.

“We, as a community, have received no benefits whatsoever from the operations,” the landowner said.

“Secondly, the land is owned by the Government and Mr Wong knows it,” the man said.

He said the government cannot afford to continue to allow foreigners who flaunt the law with the prime objective to enrich themselves.

Documents obtained by Island Sun newspaper this week show Mbetilonga Land Holdings Group Community Company Ltd raked in some $64 million in export revenue since it began exporting round logs through One Pacific Company Ltd on November 24, 2015.

The felling licence was granted by the Commissioner of Forest, Reeves Moveni. Many said the Commissioner knew the land was on lease to the government.

Prime Minister Ricky Houenipwela has since ordered an investigation into Commissioner Moveni’s involvement.

“The Community has never received a single penny from this money. We don’t even know where the money has and is going,” the Mbetilonga landowner said.

He said everything about the set up was wrong from the start.

“For example, the two legal trustees of the land, Francis Labo and Gabriel Uni, have all died. They were the legal trustees of 5, 560 hectares of land, which is on lease to the Government for 75 years.

“How the company transferred their powers to new trustees is a mystery. By law it is illegal to do that without putting out a public notice of the intention.

In this case, nothing of that sort took place,” he said.

Meanwhile the man said Mr Wong once told the meeting of so-called landowners that they should not worry about government officials.

“They are my boys, Mr Wong allegedly told the recent meeting.

“Mr Wong also told us that one senior government official is receiving $4 per cubic metres from every round log exported. Some 65, 698.631 cubic metres were exported between 24 November 2015 and 14 October 2017, figures obtained by Island Sun show.

Based on this figure, the official would have collected some $263, 000 from the arrangement, which he said came into force last year.