$6.7 MILLION PROGRAM TARGETS HONIARA JOBLESS

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World Bank, Australia, New Zealand funding

By Moffat Mamu HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, June 3, 2010) – HONIARA City is faced with the problem of urbanisation and it is exerting huge pressure on the council.

City mayor Andrew Mua made the comments at the launch of the Employment Rapid Project (REP) which will help to provide jobs for the unemployed.

He said the labour scheme will ease unemployment and provide income for communities.

[PIR editor’s note: Funding for the Project, to provide temporary work for 7,500 unemployed in Honiara over a five-year period, is being provided by the World Bank, AusAID and the New Zealand Government. ]

Mr Mua said the city council through the years has been providing social and livelihood services for every resident of Honiara to enjoy.

"However the increasing migration into Honiara all year round mostly young people seeking job opportunities and other benefits that are available in Honiara have continued to strain the council’s services," he said.

He said the demand for services is especially in education and health sector.

"Because village parents think that the education provided by Honiara city is a higher curricular than in the village and have been sending their children into Honiara for pre-primary and primary, secondary and technical college," he said.

In the health sector enough medication are budgetted for in the various ward clinics within the city, Mr Mua added.

"However, extra people hosted by relatives in Honiara again constraints our budgets.

"Therefore the council has an obligation to make every resident in Honiara and visitors alike happy and enjoy the services provided by the council," he said.

The Lord Mayor said that although Honiara is a small city it had huge social and economic problems to deal with.

"Honiara is a small growing populated city and already we are facing challenges like keeping Honiara clean, grow concern of drugs and alcohol, prostitutions and betel nut vendors," he said.

The Honiara city population grew by 13 percent, from 69, 000 to more than 79,000 in 2009.

And the council believes this figure will grow this year which means a pressure for more services.

[PIR editor’s note: According to the Solomon Times, the employment program is already getting some blunt assessments on its ability to deliver, but more so on its intended recipients. Guadalcanal Premier Stephen Panga yesterday called on the national government to also look at ways to create jobs for the unemployed out in the provinces. He said Honiara city is already over populated and unemployed people, especially youths from the provinces, are the main culprits behind much of the criminal activities in the city. Panga said that if such projects are created in the provinces it would provide employment and reduce urban drift into Honiara. ]

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