By EDDIE OSIFELO
SINGAPORE’s METROPOLIC Pacific PTE Ltd move to build 5000 houses at Mamara in North West Guadalcanal has raised more questions than answers for some landowners.
Former Special Secretary to Prime Minister, Andrew Muaki alleged the Tandai landowners demanded the return of the whole land area after the previous Fixed Term Estate (FTE) owner of the Mamara-Tasivarongo-Mawo decided to offload her interests in or around 1995-1996.
Muaki said their demand was based on the government policy of returning alienated land to customary land owners.
The Tandai Land Owners had two principal demands:
- Return of the Perpetual Estate (PE), and
- Return/surrender of the FTE.
However, Muaki claimed the then Solomon Islands Government ignored both demands despite the government policy and the fact it was still possible to accommodate both the Tandai Land Owners interests and that of Metropolis Ltd.
“A year or so later the Guadalcanal people decided to evict non-Guadalcanal settlers from their land.
“It should be noted that the Guadalcanal people in the Mamara-Tasivarongo-Mawo area were some of the strongest supporters of the social unrest on Guadalcanal Island. Their views on land and other matters affecting Guadalcanal Province has not subsided to this day,” he claimed.
Muaki alleged the SIG argued the Mamara area was ideal for hotel development.
He said it would be, according to government officials, Solomon Islands first five-star hotel, to be built at Mamara, together with golf courses and other amenities.
However, Muaki alleged it has come as a major surprise to Tandai Land Owners and the communities there that Metropolis Ltd and the government started off with 5,000 housing estate for Solomon Islanders.
“It seems all the concerns raised by the Tandai Land Owners, surrounding communities and Guadalcanal Province has landed on deaf ears,” he claimed.
Furthermore, Muaki claimed to ensure Tandai Land Owners would not demand the return of their land or stop any future development proposed by Metropolis Ltd, the SIG agreed to the proposal by Metropolis Ltd and its lawyer, the late Julian Moti, that Mamara land was in need of a special legislation.
He said in 1997 the SIG took to Parliament the Mamara-Tasivarongo-Mawo Agreement Bill which was passed and is now the only piece of legislation that governs the current development at Mamara.
“If Mamara-Tasivarongo-Mawo is quite special to the SIG, how about the LSL land from Lungga to Fox wood? Should it also have a special legislation? And how about the RIPEL FTE in the Russell Islands? Should it also have a special legislation to protect the interests of the investor and government?” he asked.
Muaki said to placate the Tandai Land Owners and Guadalcanal Province from raising the issue, every government, if not most governments, would appoint the MP from Northwest Guadalcanal as the minister of lands.
“Thus, for most of their ministerial life, late Francis Orodani and late Sirako Usa were appointed to be lands minister.
“If the local MP was not appointed (MP Bodo never appointed in governments he was in), another MP from Guadalcanal Province would be appointed to be the lands minister,” he claimed.
Muaki claimed the government has been lying to the people of Guadalcanal Province for far too long.
“Perhaps the lessons of the past have not been helpful in shaping our dealings with people’s land and concerns.
“Or perhaps the government has other interests to take care of. But whatever it is, history tends to repeat itself in many ways,” he claimed.
Island Sun understands based on the Mamara City plan, it also includes a hotel, a stadium and other developments.