PALM OIL PLANTATION REHABILITATION EMPLOYS OVER 1000

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Nov. 17) –More than 1000 Solomon Islanders have been already employed to work on the palm oil plantation on Guadalcanal.

Eighty percent of the work force are from Guadalcanal.

Currently, the workers have been engaged to rehabilitate and reconstruct the oil palm mill, the headquarters and workers’ houses.

These were badly damaged in the ethnic tension that broke out in 1999.

Agriculture Minister Enele Kwanairara told parliament Malaysian engineers are being engaged to help with the mill’s rebuilding, which should be ready for use by next May or June.

But he says the company’s headquarters should be completed before Christmas, adding both buildings need a lot of work to be carried out on them.

The new company, Guadalcanal Plains Palm Oil Limited, jointly owned by the Papua New Guinea-based New Britain Palm Oil Limited and the landowners, is building 50 houses for its new labour force.

Mr Kwanairara says 2000 hectares of the old plantations are being replanted with 190,000 seedlings.

On the employment focus, Commerce and Employment Minister Walton Naezon says during the first year of operation, 1500 jobs will be available and in later years when 12,000 hectares of land will be cleared for oil palm plantations, 3000 jobs will be available.

Mr Kwanairara says the company expects to ship its first palm oil export in July or August next year.

He says the project is a very important development for all stakeholders, adding what has happened so far is very promising.

Former Finance Minister Francis Zama asked if the new company and the landowners have in place an employment policy which will ensure social harmony between workers to avoid future ethnic uprisings.

And former Health Minister and MP for West Kwara’ae, Benjamin Una suggested the engagement of people from the provinces in which development projects are being developed as their employment policies.

Mr Kwanairara says companies, landowners and developers should have learnt from the recent ethnic problems so they should establish employment-friendly policies.

He reminds all Solomon Islanders that they have a duty to ensure such incidents do not occur and that projects are protected so development can go forward.

And Prime Minister Sir Allan Kemakeza told parliament that employment policies should exclude discrimination, because people should be engaged because of their skills and experiences.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Solomon Star: http://www.solomonstarnews.com/

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