Solomon Islands Scholar Praises Local Mechanism To Identify Land Ownership

'Popoloto' could be basis to resolving land disputes that hinder development: Kabutaulaka

By Aatai John

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, July 5, 2017) – A local mechanism set up by people of Choiseul to identify land and its ownership, which is known as Popoloto could be the right approach for government to exhaust in order to easily register land in the country.

Dr. Tarcisius Tara Kabutaulaka highlighted this when speaking during the recent peace dialogue held in Honiara, when the issue of land was discussed.

 Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Lands, Housing & Survey Stanley Wale made his presentation on the land legislation of the government, as enshrined in the policy of the Democratic Coalition for Change (DCC).

During the question and answer session Dr. Kabutaulaka said land dispute in the country is one of the issues that hinders development to progress.

He gave an example of the hydro project in Buala, Isabel Province in year 2005, which he was amongst those who worked in the early stage of the project.

Citing that the dispute then was only three tribes, but after he came back some years later from abroad, he was surprised that the disputing tribes over the hydro site has climbed up to 13 clans.

He said these tribes had claims of taboo sites around the same area.

“And probably if the project is shifted somewhere else, the taboo sites will shift as well to the new location of the project,” he joked.

However, he said Popoloto in Choisuel was an established mechanism locally grown and intended to pursue land recording in the island.

But he said the problem then was Timber Rights Hearing continued to be held during the process of the Popoloto on the island.

In spite of that, he stressed that Popoloto could be the starting point for the government in one province as the country pursue the land recording and registration and then later move to the other provinces.

Dr Kabutaulaka added that government must exhaust the established mechanisms locally grown in the communities rather than relying on the laws of Timber Rights, Land Title Act and the Land Record Act.

He cautioned that the case of Fiji took 59 years from 1880 to 1939 to complete the process of land registration, adding that during that long period of time it also took them to sort out genealogies and other land related matters.

He said how to streamline procedures is the case in point, which government must seriously look at the locally established mechanism in different islands of our country, to carry out land recording; hence Popoloto has set the benchmark.

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