Outlying Islands Seek Separate Constituency In Solomons

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Population boom leads to call for separate representation

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 9, 2013) – Two outlying islands in Makira – Santa Ana and Santa Catalina – are calling for a separate constituency in the Solomon Islands; the two islands are currently part of the East Makira Constituency.

Iin a recent meeting by Gapuna chiefs, they supported earlier calls by the Owa House of Chiefs for a separate constituency for the two islands.

Santa Ana and Santa Catalina are located off the coast of Cape Surville in the Sat Harbour area.

They are part of the East Makira constituency, which spans right from Wainoni, bordering Central Makira constituency to as far as the weather coast of Makira in the Haununu areas bordering West Makira constituency.

East Makira is one of the biggest constituencies in the country and the entire constituency can only be accessed by sea transport often in hazardous conditions as the seas in the area are commonly rough at most times.

The Gupuna chiefs said if the national government plans to increase the number of constituencies beyond 50 before next year’s election, their islands should be one of the priorities.

Spokesman chief Nicholas Karani said it is the wish of the people in both Santa Ana and Santa Catalina that they be considered by the government for a separate constituency.

He explained that the two islands of Santa Ana and Santa Catalina have experienced an alarming increase in population growth in recent times and their needs as islanders are incomparably unique to that of mainland Makira.

"As islanders we are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, social issues, political issues, regionalism and land issues," chief Karani said.

"We strongly believe our voices could only be better heard and understood by someone who is from the islands as our representative in parliament."

Chief Karani however, pointed out that they are very appreciative of the help and commitment that their current MP Alfred Ghiro has been carrying out.

He said it has been the first time that assistance to the people of East Makira is well coordinated and is more community oriented as opposed to individual assistance which seemingly became the norm in years past.

"However, the fact of the matter is that East Makira is so large an area for even the MP to positively impact in terms of all the assistance, financial or otherwise at his disposal and I am sure even our good MP would agree with us on this," chief Karani added.

He stressed that the government must consider the wishes of his people for a separate constituency in light of the fact that there are a lot of potential opportunities on the island that can be tapped into for the benefit of the people.

These potentials however, he said would require separate assistance specific for the island and this he believed could only be attained through becoming a separate constituency.

"We will be raising this same issue with our Member of Parliament and to seek his help as a government minister in bringing our voices to the national government," he said.

He pointed out further that the increasing number of school dropouts, impacts of climate change such as coastal erosions, over harvesting of sea resources due to increasing population, experiences of regionalism in the province and many other pressing issues may not be as serious on the mainland communities on Makira but they certainly are affecting island communities in a very big way.

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