Is it too late to modernize our capital city?
IT is not an exaggeration to say that the state of debilitation facing Honiara reflects the state of poor governance at the HCC.
It will be a national shame not to do anything to improve Honiara and present to our visitors a modern and clean capital city when the Pacific Games starts in late 2023.
I’m hopeful there is time to turn things around but certain things have to be done now.
First is, recruit a new City Clerk. It’s good to see a process is already underway for this.
Hopefully an active and visionary person will be recruited on merit for this important role.
Secondly, the current HCC works supervisor, with due respect, is entirely incompetent and must be replaced.
The state of Honiara reflects the individual’s incompetence.
Thirdly the CAUSE project must now be refocused to fund and drive most of the modernization activities around Honiara especially in paving walkways in central public areas, such as from ITA to NPF Plaza and the opposite side of the road.
Also, all drains along the main streets of Honiara must be covered.
Other priorities can include the following:
- beautify two tourist zones at Point Cruz, one from the ACOM Head-office to the Dennis Building and the second one from the former ANZ building to the Visitors’ bureau office. These zones will be declared as tourists zones by ordinance and all shops there will be required to upgrade their shop fronts and will be required to be specialist shops. These zones will be paved and lined with green palm trees. Beetle nut and cigarette roll sales will not be allowed in these zones. Also, there won’t be any street vendors allowed to sell in these zones. The two underground walkway shelters at Point Cruz CBD will be dismantled and permanently closed. The location of the structures will be landscaped and planted with flowers.
- One of the major projects that HCC must be involved with has be the development of the roundabout in front of the HCC Office into a non-visit park. An architect should be engaged to design the park so that it will be fit for purpose. A water feature will be nice to be installed in the park and so as flag poles from which will fly the national flag and all the Provincial flags and Honiara City flag. Also if feasible HCC should discuss with MP Bodo Detke the possibility of buying back land at the Mataniko river bank that was previously sold to him. The land should be used to locate a fun park complete with amusement activities such as a merry -go-around, artificial horse rides, bucket floats, food outlets, shopping, grocery shop and convenience facilities.
- On traffic management, a lot of work needs to be done on this front but as a start take off all mini-buses from the main road enclosed within the white river bridge and east end of the Lunga bridge.
- In this regard all minibuses will only service all feeder roads. So licences will be issued according to the feeder roads. For example licenses will be provided for minibuses to serve all Mbokonavere roads ending at the HCC parking area which should be upgraded as a bus exchange. All feeder roads will have a mini-bus serving it. The main road as designated in the boundary defined above will be served by five big buses that will be bought and operated by the HCC. No licences will be issued to any mini-bus to operate a public transport service in the main road. Guadalcanal routes Mini-buses coming into town from either side of the defined boundary will have to drop off and pick-up their passengers on either ends of the boundary and the passengers will then catch a HCC public transport into town or to catch their respective transport at either end of the main road.
- Similarly taxis should be allowed to only operate from taxi bases. No taxis will be allowed to drive around town looking for passengers who will have to call in by phone to the bases for taxi pick up.
- To help increase revenue generation, parking meters should be installed around the CBD area.
- Given the poor control of revenue by HCC, revenue collection should be outsourced to be managed by a competent agency (through an open public tender). ISIA can very well perform this function.
- In addition working closely with MID, some roads will have to be upgraded and opened up to traffic. For example Ashley street will be opened up from the west bound lane of Mendana Avenue. An entry and exit junction will be introduced from and into Mendana Avenue. Also east bound traffic out of Lawson tama will be closed. Instead only west bound traffic can enter the main road and east bound vehicles will have to use the HCC round about to head-back east.
- In consultation with the Chinese Association the main china town street will be upgraded and opened up as a two way street. Parking meters will be installed along the street and CCTV cameras will also be installed in strategic locations along the street complete with street lights.
- Funds permitting (will discuss with CAUSE), bus shelters will be built along the main road.
- Also the fish market at the main market will be relocated, or better managed for cleanliness, to another location as the product is causing bad stench at the market.
- Finally, HCC will appoint street wardens whose job it is to patrol the streets and issue on the spot fines for people caught littering or spitting beetle-nut juice on the street. The wardens will be empowered by ordinance to do their jobs.
They will also be doing routine street cleaning jobs such as street sweeping and de-dusting etc. For the main road cleaning gangs of 3-5 people will be employed and the gangs will be allocated a specific stretch of the road to clean every day. So the main road will be covered.
Each gang could be responsible for say cleaning both sides of the main road for up to 5km of the road and then another will be responsible for another 5 km of road and so forth.
All feeder roads and suburbs will be covered by mobile gangs. That way the entire city is covered.
For street sweeping the HCC will purchase three street sweeping vehicles which will be used mainly to de-dust the side streets and main road while the street gangs will be responsible for cutting grass and weeds etc.
- Also, to help with the general cleanliness of the city all old vehciles left by any roadside will be towed away by the HCC for a fee. Sometime will be given to the owners to clear away the old vehicles.
At the lapse of this time, HCC will clear-away the vehicles at a fee to the owners. The same will apply to any illegal structures constructed on the roadside.
The HCC will give time for owners to dismantle these structures failing which HCC law enforcement will perform this function at a fee to the owners.
All these are part of a holistic effort to clean Honiara.
The effort will include a dismantling of all structures used for side street hawking.
The overhead walkway at the NRH will be dismantled as are the two structures on the underground walkway at Point Cruz which are an ugly eyesore.
Some buildings in town will have to be condemned as these have become too old and deface the image of Honiara as the capital city.
Hopefully we will all cooperate to modernize Honiara in the short-time left before the games start in late 2023.