Solomons Provincial Leader Says Airstrip To Reopen Soon

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Gwaunaru’u community, local officials reach agreement

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 14, 2014) – In Solomon Islands, the Gwaunaru’u airstrip near Auki, Malaita province is expected to be reopened soon.

This was confirmed by the Malaita provincial premier Edwin Suibaea in an interview on Thursday.

He said that his provincial secretary Peter Hauia and himself have consulted the Gwaunaru’u community together with their chiefs and have agreed to reopen the airstrip.

"We have met and consulted the community and their two chiefs, this week and both tribes have agreed to reopen the airstrip."

The premier explained that an agreement had been reached where the contract must be given back to the community, which is the original agreement; not 3 months for each group which leads to the closure of the airstrip.

"They said that they do not want to interfere with the court’s decision about the two disputing parties but rather let the community continue with its contract to do maintenance on the airstrip."

[PIR editor’s note: Solomon Star reported earlier that Gwaunaru'u chiefs decided to keep the airstrip closed over maintenance contracts awarded to parties outside an agreement with the national aviation ministry.]

He said that his office is finalizing documents to be sent over to the Aviation Ministry yesterday.

Once all the formalities are sorted out the airstrip is expected to be reopened, next week.

The airstrip was closed for operation in the week leading up to Christmas last year. Despite the closure work on maintaining the airstrip had continued.

Ward 3 member Martin Fini meanwhile added that that was exactly what he had been fighting for.

"That the contracts be given back to the community and not to individuals who are of interest to the PS because that was not stipulated in the agreement."

He said the maintenance contracts once given back to the community will end the closure.

"But the awarding of the contracts to the two individuals must be investigated."

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