Pacific Arts Festival Vendors To Protest Non-Payment In Solomons

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Gravel supplier, musical band reportedly unpaid by organizers

By Jennifer Kakai

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, August 2, 2012) – In the Solomon Islands, gravel suppliers from Northwest Guadalcanal are planning a peaceful protest against the Festival of Pacific Arts (FOPA) committee over non-payment.

Gravel suppliers from Kakabona supplied gravel for the FOPA main venue at Panatina.

A spokesperson from the group who wanted his name withheld said they were promised to be paid during the festival period, but unfortunately have received nothing.

He said he had struggled for the past weeks ringing and knocking at FOPA Committee Office, but received no proper response.

"I was told to see the accounts section, but when I ring or even arrive at their office, they told me the responsible person is not in the office. This is a slap to the face of the rural people who had put in their time and effort to make the event a successful one."

The spokesperson said they no longer have trust in the FOPA committee after waiting this long.

"Thus we plan to carry out a peaceful protest to let the superior know of our concern and we are human beings just like them."

He added that as a spokesperson, he is answerable the rural people who sweated to provide the needed materials as he himself received no proper answer from the organizing committee.

Meanwhile, the Leftover Band of Gela, Central Province, echoed similar sentiment after they receive no payments from the FOPA committee.

Group member Annie Siniore said they had been selected to perform during the FOPA after contesting at the Pavilion at Panatina campus. However, she said after joining the festival program at their own expenses they were told that their name is not in the list to be paid.

Mrs. Siniore said they wonder why their name is not in the list after they qualified to perform during the festival.

"We are now stranded here in Honiara to recover the SB$14,000 [US$1,891] we spent on food and accommodation during the two weeks festival."

The mother said what happened is not at their expectation and want explanation from the responsible body.

An officer from the FOPA main office, when contacted, referred comments to be taken from the Accounts Section. A female from the accounts section said person in charge was not in the office. Attempts to talk to the person in charge were unsuccessful as his mobile phone was switched off.

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