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Honiara police fly to Marovo to put down unrest

By Eddie Osifelo HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Dec. 1, 2009) – In the Solomon Islands, police from Honiara flew to Bukipuki island in Marovo, Western Province, on Sunday morning on two helicopters to curb violence between land owning groups there.

One police source told the Solomon Star yesterday the violence erupted after some angry landowners burnt up machines used for logging operation.

The rapid response from Police was to stop the violence from further escalating into the Vangunu oil palm project, which is closer to Bukipuki island, the source said.

"Land dispute is the motive behind the violence," the police source said.

"There is a prominent businessman whose name was singled out during the violence."

The Government is doing everything it can to protect the Vangunu island in the beautiful Marovo lagoon.

This was after a Malaysian firm Sylvania Products Pty Ltd (SPPL) failed its agreement with the Government in 1999 to develop the Vangunu oil palm out-growers scheme.

The company has so far logged the land after using the ethnic tension in 2000 in Honiara as an excuse to carry out the logging operation.

Last December, owner of Sylvania, Joseph Wong secretly left the country leaving behind 130 employees without their wages and salaries till today.

He also left behind scars from logging operation on the lagoon.

The area earmarked for the Oil Palm project is government land.

The Government now plans to redevelop the project.

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