PEOPLE REPORTED HURT IN SOLOMON ISLANDS WEATHERCOAST VIOLENCE

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (January 11, 2002 - SIBC, Solomon Star/PINA Nius Online)---There have been reports of continuous harassment of civilians on the Weathercoast of Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.

Some people are reported to have been hurt.

A radio report from Vatulava yesterday quoted Chief John Topoko as saying that a number of civilians were injured by people heavily armed with high-powered weapons.

The report said some houses were also set on fire by the armed group of men.

It said that the group was different from the one led by Harold Keke, the Guadalcanal militant who stayed out of the peace process, which ended two years of ethnic conflict.

The group responsible for the latest attacks, the report said, was armed with high-powered weapons supplied by a police patrol boat.

The arms transfer allegedly occurred during an operation against Mr. Keke and his men on the Weathercoast last year.

Chief Topoko called on authorities to immediately send a team to assess the situation.

Meanwhile, police have denied that the patrol boat had supplied arms to any group on the Weathercoast as claimed by Chief Topoko.

The Deputy Commissioner of Police Operations, Wilfred Akao, again reiterated calls for people still holding arms to hand them in to the International Peace Monitoring Team.

Mr Akao also urged people being harassed on the Weathercoast to submit a report of the incidents to the police.

In other Solomon Islands news:

# The government has stopped all remissions on customs and import duties effective today, Minister of Finance Michael Maina said.

He said the move includes all unused duty and tax remissions granted by the former Finance Minister, Snyder Rini, during the former Sogavare government.

It follows growing criticism of the new Kemakeza government honoring the remissions granted by the former government despite a court ruling that they are illegal.

* Police traffic officers are preparing for a major operation aimed at restoring law and order on Honiara roads.

The operation, scheduled to start on January 21, will see vehicles stopped, checked and tested.

Chief Superintendent Solomon Kari, said: "This is going to be a major traffic operation to be undertaken in conjunction with police efforts to restore law and order back into the country."

* Form seven students in years 2000 and 2001 will have to wait to return to their studies while the government tries to secure funds to help them continue with their education.

Permanent Secretary for Education Walter Ramo said unless the government receives overseas assistance, the situation will not change.

Mr. Ramo said Australia and New Zealand overseas scholarship programs could also soon be over, as these countries want to concentrate on helping students studying in the Solomon Islands.

* Soltai Acting General Manager Milton Sibisopere said the fishing company is now moving forward, although on a smaller scale than Solomon Taiyo.

With 600 employees, most of them nationals, Soltai is operating initially for the local and regional markets

Thirteen pole-line fishing vessels have been retained and are manned by local crews. Eleven vessels are for sale.

Soltai has also started to export smoked fish and canned tuna to regional markets. Frozen fish is no longer exported because tuna is being used in the cannery.

Soltai is majority owned by the government after Solomon Taiyo closed its operation at the height of the ethnic conflict when a Japanese partner, Maruha Corporation, withdrew.

* The Prime Minister’s official residence at Vavaya Ridge, Honiara, was reported to be without basic furniture when an official from the Prime Minister’s Office visited the residence.

It was not immediately clear who removed the furniture from the house. The residence was last occupied by former Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

For additional reports from the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

 

PIRATING OF WATER SUPPLIES HITS HONIARA

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (January 11, 2002 - Solomon Star/PINA Nius Online)---The pirating of water in Honiara is increasing, according to the Solomon Islands Water Authority.

Acting general manager John Waki said that they have discovered many homeowners have connected their homes to the main water system without notifying the authority’s office.

He said that the authority sent its men to places where they discovered water has been connected illegally, but the homeowners threatened them.

He said when people connect to the main system without going through the authority they are using water free or somebody else is paying.

Meantime, Mr. Waki said a new standby generator for the Kongulae water source has already arrived in Honiara but it is yet to be installed.

He said this will be done when the government and landowners have settled their differences on outstanding rentals.

The standby generator was purchased with funding from the European Union, which also funded the repair work of the pump station after it was destroyed by militants during the ethnic conflict.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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