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By Moffat Mamu

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Aug. 31) - The three-day auction of unclaimed properties from the recent riots opened yesterday drawing hundreds of people from all works of life.

The items that went on auction yesterday were household goods, cooking utensils, clothes and assorted hardware materials.

The auction, held outside Transpacific Supplies warehouse, started at 9am but forced to close early because of safety concerns.

Police Media said police were forced to close their public auction of unclaimed property early because under the sale arrangements a number of people were not getting a fair and equal opportunity to make purchases.

"Police were concerned that the situation had the potential to become a public safety issue and closed the sale.

"This is the first public auction of this magnitude undertaken by the police and even though they planned for a big crowd and had 30 officers on duty at multiple sale points, the sheer size of the crowd made it difficult for people in the back rows to see the items that were being offered for sale," Police Media said.

Police organizers said it was becoming a security issue and unfair to those who could not get near enough to place a bid.

"After consultation with senior officers, police decided to close the sale early and examine other options to make the process more equitable," Police said.

However, some members of the public said the auction should be better organized because there were too many people outnumbering the police officers involve in the exchange of goods with customers.

"This current arrangement is not good because everyone wants to buy something therefore people kept pushing to give their money confusing police officers involve in the auction," a buyer stated.

He said it did not seem like an auction to him because as soon as officers called out the starting price people start pushed their money forward and bought the item only on the starting price.

He said he hoped it will be more organized when the auction continues today.

Police said more cash collectors will be on hand to speed up the process of payment.

The auction of unclaimed properties was conducted under the provisions of Section 29 of the Police Act. All proceeds from the auction will be paid into the Solomon Islands Government Consolidated Revenue.

September 1, 2006

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