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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, March 29) - A local logging operator in Makira Province in Solomon Islands is crying-foul over a SB$2.4 million [US$344,400] failed payment promised by its Asian logging partner.

[PIR editor’s note: Makira is an island located southeast of Guadalcanal Province, where the national capital of Honiara is situated.]

The Makira-based Aroba Development Holdings Limited entered into a lease agreement with the Malaysian Company, the Yakin Bayan (SI) PTE Limited to use the latter’s logging machines in its concession area.

Under the lease agreement, Aroba Company has every legal right to use all the machines and other equipment in the operations. But the Aroba Company’s Managing Director, Michael Saiki said Yakin Bayan has breached the agreement when it pulled out lately and moved its machines into another area and operate illegally there.

Saiki said Yakin Bayan Company had made cash advances amounting to more than SB$2.4 million [US$344,400] from Aroba Company during their partnership.

"They promised to repay the cash advances but they failed to make any single payment since," Saiki said.

He said the arrangement made between the two companies was made in good faith under an understanding that repayment for all cash advances be made immediately after every shipment.

"Sadly, this arrangement never eventuates to date. We want the money paid immediately because we have other obligations to settle with landowners and other parties involved in the logging operation," a distressed Saiki said yesterday.

Saiki said he pursued the matter with numerous letters on several occasions but the Malaysian company has been unwilling to respond while it continues to operate illegally in another area on Makira.

Saiki has warned that they will repossess the machines if Yakin Bayan Company failed to honor the agreement.

In a letter to the foreign company, Saiki said; "Failure to settle this matter leaves us with no other recourse but to hold on to the equipment and machines until Yakin Bayan settled the outstanding payment. Any unlawful and illegal pre-termination of the lease agreement by Yakin Bayan will be dealt with accordingly," he added.

The Yakin Bayan company management could not be reached for comment.

March 30, 2006

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