Proposed million-dollar patrol base disputed

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The Lofung Border and Patrol Boat Outpost site plan in the Shortland Islands
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BY BEN BILUA
Gizo

THE proposed million dollar Border Patrol Outpost at Lofung, Shortland Island has come under scrutiny by a group who call themselves the original land owners of the land where development is expected to take place.

A source told this paper that there is a court case filed to challenge the legality of the contract made between the government and FAMOA Trust Board.

The source alleged that consultation and negotiation which led to the signing of the agreement was null and voided as original landowners were not part of the agreement.

“Currently we are challenging the agreement – meaning the development will not proceed as it is subjected to court.

“Furthermore, we put an injunction that there will be no funding or whatever transaction for the purpose of the development is made.

“We understand that this is a major blow to the proposed development but we want to take this action to give the government a clear signal to listen to landowners before pursuing development anywhere in the country,” the source said.

The source said, the original landowners have warned the government of the issue regarding the ownership of the land but the government ignore their call.

The source adds that, they have also submit similar notification to the Australian High Commission but again the notice falls on deaf ears.

The source further stated that the Original Landowners were not part of the reconciliation held at Tuha on 21st June this year.

The source said the reconciliation was between FAMOA Council of Chief and other tribes who are secondary rights ownership of the land.

On a press release published on 23rd June this year, the Government Communication Unit (GUC) states that the Australian Government is funding the multimillion-dollar Border and Patrol Boat Outpost project.

This follows when Australian Prime Minister Scot Morrison and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare jointly announced in Honiara on 7 October 2019 about the project.

The statement highlights the interest of both leaders to undertake a joint project to deliver a Border and Patrol Boat Outpost in the Western border region of Solomon Islands.

They stated that the design will feature environmentally sustainable elements and will be appropriate to regional conditions and will include a wharf capable of replenishing Guardian-Class patrol boats, accommodation buildings and storage facilities.

When completed that the Outpost will improve border security services in the Western region as well as supporting social and economic growth by strengthening border management, surveillance, response capability and protection from illegal activities.

Importantly, the project also aligns well with the Solomon Islands Government’s National Security Strategy and the National Border Security Strategy for better management of our borders.


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