DEAR EDITOR, more than 20 years ago when I worked in the Solomons, I frequently raised concerns about waste disposal, littering and rubbish in Honiara and coined the phrase, ‘Civic Pride’ as being a necessary element to motivate and encourage its citizens to properly dispose of their garbage and to ensure the city environment was clean and pollution free.
Judging from the comments of the Deputy Prime Minister last week when he participated, along with other volunteers, in cleaning-up the beach at the Yacht Club, I rather gather that not much has changed in the intervening 20 years since I left.
Mr. Sogavare was quoted in one local newspaper as saying that rubbish or waste management and marine pollution are depressing formidable challenges.
The Deputy PM went on to say, “I must admit we in Solomon Islands have a very long way to go. Just look around Honiara and you can see litter especially plastics everywhere, along the roads and streets, in the drains and waterways, drainage system and along our beaches and seashores.”
Much could be achieved if only people would dispose of their rubbish properly in bins provided by the Honiara City Council and desist from polluting the streets, rivers, waterways and streams with plastic bags, plastic bottles and plastic of all kinds, from wrapping to containers.
Perhaps the HCC does not yet provide enough bins and, should that be the case, more should be supplied, and extra efforts put into stopping vandalism of municipal property, often the reason for there not being enough rubbish disposal bins on the streets.
Papua New Guinea has just introduced legislation, following the lead set earlier by Vanuatu, in banning plastic bags and similar moves are being considered in other small Pacific nations.
Many in the Solomon Islands have said banning plastics at home should also be given consideration, but enforcement of such a ban might need careful study if indeed legislation was to be examined.
In March this year, New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters, signaled that the New Zealand Government would invest more time and resources in being a “true partner” to Pacific Island countries. He mentioned in particular NZ requiring making global efforts in curbing the inundation of plastic waste.
He commented that it was important to reduce the amount of damaging waste in the Pacific arising from New Zealand’s use of plastic and the lack of adequate waste management systems was sorely evident throughout the Pacific He explained that New Zealand was looking to assist Pacific Island countries with better waste (management).
It could be opportune for the Solomon Islands Government to seek New Zealand advice and possible assistance, following on Mr. Peter’s words, to improve local waste management systems and procedures.
First and foremost, however, people at home must be more concerned about disposing of their personal garbage with an eye to a cleaner, healthier environment and the concept of ‘Civic Pride’ in their national capital and indeed throughout the Solomon Islands.