BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
PARASI airfield at Small Malaita being closed for the past seven years is now set to re-open.
In a ceremony yesterday at the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, representatives of the three disputing parties of Parasi airfield land together signed agreements with the Commissioner of Lands paving the way for the re-opening.
Speaking at the signing, Chairman of the Aviation Task Force and also the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communication and Aviation Mr Moses Virivolomo thanked leaders of the disputing parties for their understanding in agreeing to re-open the airfield while waiting for the resolution of their land disputes by responsible authorities.
“Since the closure of the airfield, residents of Small Malaita as well as East and West AreAre who have been using it to travel home have experienced hardships in travelling by sea all the time,” said Mr Virivolomo.
“Re-opening the airfield is a step in the right direction towards facilitating whatever development aspirations there are, not only of Small Malaita, but also Malaita Province and Solomon Islands generally.”
The Permanent Secretary then took the opportunity in expressing his appreciation for the tireless efforts put in by the Aviation Task Force in negotiating for the re-opening of the airfield with the disputing parties.
He is now calling upon the disputing parties of the Manaoba and Lomlom airfields to follow the examples set by the disputing parties of Gwaunaruu and Parasi airfields.
This is to allow the opening of these airfields pending the judicial settlement of their internal disputes.
“Clearing and cleaning of Parasi airfield will start immediately with the hope that Solomon Airlines will commence flights there before the end of the year,” said Mr Virivolomo.
The three disputing parties for Parasi airfield are Wawateimatawa/Ohotai Manioha, Silent No More Brothers and Taraoro/ Waiaraka.
Mr Moses Waririu of Taraoro/ Waiaraka landowners speaking on behalf of the three landowning parties during the signing said the opportunity for the re-open is a great moment for everyone as they have tried to solve this long standing issue.
“We have been affected long enough so we are looking forward to work with the government in the long term of the re-opening of Parasi airfield,” said Mr Waririu.
He added to let such development taking place be an eye-opener for others in seeing the avenue to work closely with the government for positive developments to take place.