Landowners Disrupt Supply, Honiara Facing Severe Water Shortage

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Dispute means 24 hour water supply can’t be guaranteed

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 6, 2014) – Residents in Honiara will experience significant water shortages, rationing and prolonged outages, Solomon Water has warned.

That is if a dispute between a landowners group and the Commissioner of Lands is not resolved immediately.

Solomon Water said that a group of landowners up-stream from the Kongulai Water Source illegally shut off part of the source over Christmas.

The Kongulai water source provides more than half of Honiara’s water supply.

"This small group is holding the rest of the community to ransom for its own gain," Solomon Water said in a statement released Friday.

"If the dispute is not resolved before the Christmas holiday ends, it will be impossible to meet the normal level of demand on the system."

Solomon Water says it’s likely that Independence Valley, Rifle Range, parts of Rove and Kola Ridge will be the worst affected.

However, it will not be able to guarantee 24 hour water supply to any areas of Honiara.

[PIR editor’s note: Landowners in Munda, Western Province, have also recently shut down the water supply over long neglected grievance about payments.]

"A reduced water supply poses several threats to human health from poor sanitation, hygiene and increased levels of bacteria.

"The irresponsible actions of these landowners harms the whole community, but it harms children most of all.

"Children are most at risk from illnesses that are caused by poor sanitation," the statement said.

Kongulai also supplies water to most of the Honiara Central Business District and there is a concern that the dispute will negatively impact upon businesses as they reopen after the Christmas holiday.

"Solomon Water will do its best to maxamise the water resources that are available, but it will be impossible to meet the demands of the community unless the landowners come to their senses and end this dispute," Solomon Water said.

The water authority said a new system of water sources, provided by JICA through Grant Aid and currently being commissioned, will ultimately reduce Honiara’s reliance on Kongulai but that system is not yet fully operational.

"The Landowners, the Commissioner of Lands and the Government must work together to resolve this dispute immediately to protect the rest of the community," Solomon Water said.

"It’s time to put aside self-interest and consider the effect that this dispute will have on the people of Honiara."

Under the Solomon Islands Water Authority Act it is an offence to divert any water from which the Authority draws its supply.

Acting Commissioner of Lands, Lands Commissioner Nester Maelanga could not be reached for comments yesterday.

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