Solomon Airlines is back on the social media

IT is hard to know what other institutions are suffering – in silence – as a result of government neglect.

There seems to be smoke everywhere, particularly within the public sector. In the past few weeks, the nation woke up to find that its only national referral hospital had been depleted of its stock of life-saving drugs.

There was panic – a panic which has forced Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela to physically visit the hospital to see for himself this life-saving institution, which has been denied adequate resources in order to serve the people of Solomon Islands.

It was a shameful episode indeed and an embarrassing spectacle. No doubt, those closer to the epicentre of the problem must have been asking themselves, how did we allow this to happen?

Thank goodness, the situation seems to be all but over as friends from abroad helped refill our stocks and that hopefully corrective measures have been put in place to avoid repeating the past.

The focus seems to have now shifted, albeit slightly to the integrity of an equally important industry – our national carrier. Solomon Airlines is a very fine airline, wholly owned by the government.

Given the recent bout of bad experience that the National Referral Hospital had gone through, the mention of government’s involvement sends shocks through one’s spine.

Fortunately, the NRH is on the ground. Airlines fly aircraft. The risk of a mishap happening mid-air is real with tragic consequences. Except for two incidents involving the loss of lives and aircraft, Solomon Airlines has had a good safety record.

That record is now being closely scrutinised by members of the social media who at one time or the other have flown on one of Solomon Airlines’ planes either on the domestic route or internationally.

Members have circulated, for example, a photograph of parts of a ceiling panel cover coming unstuck in one of the planes.

That photograph promoted me to find out whether the government owes the airline any money.

The response was a resounding no. Unlike in the past, the government does not owe Solomon Airlines any money. And that is good news. Now postings on the social media network, Yumi TokTok Forum (YTTF), demand that the airlines management do something about some of the old aircraft to ensure safety of the traveling public is not compromised.

Here’s one among many that I picked, not because my name is mentioned, but because it brings out the concerns that many have expressed after the photograph of a falling ceiling panel cover.

“Alfred Sasako – this is the evidence of what I’ve been trying to tell everyone. SAL is patching up the aircrafts due to cash flow problem but they hang on to expats like Bill Tyson who add no value at all to the airline other than driving the CEO around.

“He went on to recruit more expat pilots that add more costs and have a CEO with expensive apartment and use it for a week or so in a month. What time SI will open their eyes. Where is this SAL? Can they justify Bill Tyson value to SAL? Next post will be a crash site.”

I am not sure that this is fair on Bill Tyson or anyone else for that matter. Bill must be proving his value that convinces the Board to keep him.

The other point to be made is this. Bill Tyson or anyone else on the management of SAL never appointed themselves to those plumb jobs with perks and the like. It is important to bear in mind that our politicians did.

Any actions to remove the individuals named or unnamed should be directed at politicians, not individuals. Politicians are the very people who let us down in the recent National Referral Hospital debacle.

There is no guarantee they won’t do it again, with equally tragic but avoidable consequences.


Alfred Sasako

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