Rennell and Bellona Province marked its Silver Jubilee, 25th Second Appointed Day Anniversary celebration on July 20, 2018 at Tingoa, graced by the attendance of its Chief Guest of Honour, Prime Minister Rick Houenipuela. Theme for the anniversary was ‘Unity in Diversity for a Strong Economic Development’.
In his key note address Prime Minister Hou congratulated and acknowledged the government and the people of Rennell and Bellona on their silver jubilee and commitment in ensuring services are delivered at the Provincial level on behalf of the National Government. The Prime Minister cited the Provincial Governance Strengthening Programme (PGSP) with its Provincial Capacity Development Fund (PCDF) as one of the National Government’s flagship projects that is providing infrastructure development services that is notable across various sectors in the Provinces. “We will continue to maintain this commitment to ensure our people receive the benefits and services that are required” assured the Prime Minister. It is understood 2018 PCDF Assessment has been completed with a formal report to be released soon and funds to be disbursed to the Provinces in the next couple of months.
Speaking during the occasion Premier for the Province, Hon Collin Singimoana (MPA), acknowledged the presence of the Hon. Prime Minister and members of his entourage, the Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Kaitu Tautai Angikimua, who is also the MP for Rennell Bellona Constituency and all other distinguished invited guests for their attendance at the province’s silver jubilee celebration.
Premier Singimoana acknowledged past governments of Rennell and Bellona Province, and National Governments for their leadership and wisdom, and dedication and humility in recognising and taking the remote Province to what it is today; a small Province with equal legal status like its sister and bigger Provinces. Premier Singamoana stated that since the according of Rennell and Bellona Province’s Second Appointed Day 25 years ago, the Province continues to have opportunities and faces challenges.
One of the challenges is the current National Government system we have which he stated; “Not only did our National Government give Rennell and Bellona that equal recognition in law as the bigger Provinces, but that recognition should by right and under our government system should have also automatically provided Rennell and Bellona with equal opportunities and equal considerations when it comes to allocation and distribution of the country’s resources and opportunities to our people and respective communities throughout Solomon Islands”.
Premier Singimoana stated that another challenge the Province faces relates to all other relevant arrays of issues pertaining to the bauxite mining on West Rennell and the status of the world heritage program in East Rennell which hosts the largest enclosed fresh water lake in Asia Pacific region. He stated that of paramount concern to his government and the Province is how West Rennell land was alienated through acquisition a process that has now become a source of complex land disputes that seemingly will remain so into the future.
Singimoana calls on the National Government, Landowners, and Rennell and Bellona Provincial Government to undertake serious structured consultations to review the entire situation in order to correct the anomalies. He stated that addressing these array of issues at this point in time would prevent further emergence of serious social and economic risks to the people of not only West Rennell but the entire Province and Solomon Islands as a country.
Premier Singimoana stated that the World Heritage Programme on East Rennell is a challenging and imperative programme as there are issues affecting the Province. He stated that in spite of the fruitful discussions with the National Government being the third party to the convention on declaration of Lake Tengano on East Rennell as a World Heritage Site, the East Rennell Local Committee and the Provincial Executive over the issues, it was sad the proposals to address the issues were never featured in the National Government’s budget last year.
The Rennell and Bellona Premier stated that despite the complications the Province is facing with the Lake Tengano World Heritage Site, the Provincial Government will continue to press on to ensure the potential of East Rennell in tourism will become a reality for the local people, Province and the country at large.
Premier Singimoana thanked the National Government for the first tranche of assistance towards preparatory work for the Solomon Games which will be held in the Province and appeals to the Ministry of Home Affairs to ensure additional funds for the games are available in time before the games start on the 20th November.
In his brief remarks during the occasion, MP for Rennell and Bellona, Hon. Kaitu Tautai Angikimua stated that he sees the Second Appointed Day celebration as best opportunity to reflect on political journey as a Province and to take stock on the progress and what has been achieved as a Province, as a society and as a people. He stated that the Second Appointed Day must not be demeaned to lose its value nor its significance for the day stands unchanging as a beacon on political success and achievement which is owed to the good people and past leaders of a Province whom he thinks had stood tall as champions the causes to be a Province despite all odds.
MP Tautai iterated that roads in the Province such as East Rennell were built forty years ago and are in dire need for rehabilitation. He stated that Tingoa and Anua airstrips also need upgrading to cater for the Dash 8 in order to boost tourism. The MP calls on people from all walks of life in Rennell and Bellona especially the leaders, chiefs, and elders to put aside their differences and put their heads together to bring Rennell and Bellona to a better stage.
As part of the Silver Jubilee, zones in the Province (East Rennell, Central Rennell, West Rennell and Bellona) took to the playing grounds to compete in the sports of rugby and netball. Sports Coordinator for the Province Mr Lungu Kilooko said the games were also ‘RenBel Ready Games’ preparatory for the Solomon Games. Central Zone won rugby’s first prize of $4,000 while Western End Zone won netball’s first prize of $3,000.