Solomon Star

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (July 1, 2009) - SO what did all those passengers on the cruise ship MS Statendam make of Honiara yesterday?

A dirty, grubby town, some would have said for sure.

Definitely passengers from this luxury liner who were spotted near the Central Market would have had interesting views. They were taking photos of the piles of rubbish spilling on to the footpath.

They would have seen the rubbish strewn all over the place. They would have thought this was a health hazard. They would have thought this was a place where people don’t seem to care about their city.

They might have even called parts of our capital filthy.

They would have been right on all counts.

Yet it wasn’t always like this. Once upon a time, Honiara had a reputation of being a pleasant little capital. Old photos show a different, nicer place to what Honiara is today.

Now our national capital is dubbed one of the dirtiest in the region.

Cruise ship visits like that of the Holland America Line’s Statendam can pump big money into a local economy. We should be welcoming and encouraging such visits.

Yet it seems we couldn’t even be bothered to clean up our city for the visit of one of the biggest cruise liners to have come here.

Who’s to blame?

How about city shopowners who don’t pay their rubbish collection fees and couldn’t care less about rubbish piling up outside their stores?

How about Honiara City Council for talking constantly about enforcement, but apparently unable to take meaningful action?

How about Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau? They travel the world but do little to help improve their home capital’s image, especially with a ship like Statendam calling?

How about all the national parliamentarians whose capital this is, but who seem short on pride in the city?

How about all the people in Honiara who indiscriminately throw their rubbish anywhere?

How about the idiots who vandalise public rubbish bins when they are put in place?

Hardly anyone seems to care about how Honiara looks.

There are notable exceptions. Like the good-intentioned people of the Honiara Beautification Committee and Project Clean China Town Committee involving community and Police.

But they are definitely a minority. And despite all their commendable efforts they do not have near enough resources. Our dirty, grubby capital, Honiara, remains an embarrassment to the nation.

Someone with the authority and the resources has to step forward and show true leadership.

If Honiara Town Council is unable or unwilling to do this, surely it’s time for the national government to intervene? This is the nation’s capital, after all.

Prime Minister Derek Sikua, where are you?

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