BY JENNIFER KUSAPA
POLICE are yet to finalise their report into last September’s bomb explosion at Tasahe, west Honiara, that claimed the lives of two expat workers.
Australian Trent Lee and Briton Stephen “Luke” Atkinson died when an unexploded ordnance detonated in their rented property.
They were employees of Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), engaged by the United States Government to map out munitions across the country.
The project was suspended after the incident, awaiting police investigation into the explosion.
Eight months on, police say they are yet to finalise their report.
As a result, the US Government says their project with Norwegian People’s Aid remained suspended.
“We still have a contract with NPA to survey unexploded ordnance in Solomon Islands,” Chad Morris, Public Affairs and Economic Officer at the US Embassy in Port Moresby, told Island Sun.
“However, all work were halted after two NPA workers died when a bomb they were handling exploded,” he added.
“We are waiting for the final report from the Solomon Islands Police Force before restarting work.”
Police did not indicate when their report will be ready.
“This was not an easy investigation,” Police Commissioner Mostyn Mangau told Island Sun yesterday.
“That’s because it requires technical expertise,” he added.
“We are now looking at finalizing our report, which will be then presented to the UXO technical committee.
“The committee will deal with the report before liaising with NPA.
“And it’s the committee that will decide on the future engagement of NPA.”
Meanwhile, Moris said the NPA project is the only program they are funding in Solomon Islands to deal with the issue of unexploded World War II bombs.
And he added they are ready to re-engage in their work in Solomon Islands as soon as they have the final report from the Solomon Islands police.
“Until then, our work must remain suspended.
“That said, we continue to explore other avenues to assist with the removal of unexploded bombs.”
Moris said over the past decade, they have invested more than USD$6 million (SBD$48 million) in support of the Solomon Islands government’s effort to survey and clear UXO under the U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction program.
Per H Breivik of NPA told Island Sun they too are still waiting for the competition of the accident investigation report from the police.
The issue of unexploded WWII bombs resurfaced two weeks ago when two young men were killed when a second world war bomb exploded in a residential area at Lengakiki.
Raziv Hilly and Charles Noda were part of a group of Seventh Day Adventists youth who were cooking in the backyard of the house for a fundraiser when the explosion occurred on 9 May.
A 105mm high explosive US projectile was buried 30cm beneath the ground where they were cooking.
Raziv, a civil engineer, took the brunt of the explosion and died shortly afterwards.
Noda, a forensic accountant, died six days after the explosion from his injuries.
Noda’s wife was also injured in the blast and was taken to hospital.