Minister Mua Lifts Suspension against Logging Company
The Minister for Forestry and Research, Hon. Dickson Mua, has lifted the suspension order imposed on Golden Fountain Development Company Limited which subcontracted Sunway (SI) Limited to carry out logging operations in Roviana lagoon in Western province.
On June 23, 2023, the Commissioner of Forestry suspended the felling license (A10723) belonging to Golden Fountain Development Company Limited after subcontractor Sunway (SI) Limited allegedly breached the Forest Resources and Timber Utilization (Felling License) Regulations 2005.
Grounds that led to this suspension was that the operation had caused water contamination in the Beula Provincial Secondary School and Baraulu community in the Roviana Lagoon.
The incident reportedly forced the school to close early where students were sent home.
However, after an appeal by the company and licensee, Minister Hon. Dickson Mua resolved to lift the suspension earlier this month.
The appeal was made in accordance with section 39(2) of the Forest Resources and Timber Utilization Act, and the Minister accepted it based on the evidence provided by the company, showing their efforts to address the issue.
“Accordingly, I advise that pursuant to my powers under Section 39(2) of the Forest and Resources and Timber Utilization Act, I hereby exercise my powers to quash the decision of the Respondent (Commissioner of Forestry) of 23rd June 2023 to suspend the Appellant’s felling license A10743 and accordingly, make the following orders:
(a) That the suspension order issued by the respondent on the 23rd of June 2023 is hereby quashed, and accordingly suspension over felling license A10743 is hereby lifted.
(b) That the Appellant immediately withdrew from East Tagosage and catchment areas surrounding water source of Beula PSS and Baraulu Community including other areas not covered under felling license A10743.
(c) That the Appellant strictly observes the Solomon Islands Code of Logging practices in your logging operation.” Minister Mua stated in the letter.
A spokesperson for Sunway (SI) Limited, Alekoti Alevangana Lima QB-Key, told SIBC News that the company took strong action to rectify the water contamination issue.
They constructed a new water dam for Beula School and Baraulu Community to have access to clean drinking water.
“We did it, we rectified the issue, and we started receiving clean drinkable water just days after the issue arose.
“People from the community plus those from the company worked together to resolve the issue.
“We received the suspension notice, and we made an appeal with evidence of what we are doing to rectify the issue to the forestry minister, and he accepted it,” Mr. Alevangana said.
In an earlier interview with SIBC News, Western Province Senior Education Officer, Andrew Jay Hani said the provincial government will be providing ten (10) 5000 Liters of water tanks for the school to ensure examination classes can continue.
However, Beula PSS Principal, Frank Maebule Noqu told SIBC News on Thursday July 20 that neither the province nor the logging company have provided valuable support for the school.
He said the ten (10) 5000 liters water tanks promised weeks ago are yet to be received.
Mr Frank revealed that Information shared by the spokesperson for Sunway (SI) Limited on Tuesday this week via the media is not fully correct.
He said the Water dam constructed by the company had not been used by the school when it was completed.
“When it rains, the water dam will be dirty, when it runs for a longer period, the dam will dry up.
“So, we did not use it, instead we identified a different site for a new water dam and built it ourselves with the support of the nearby community. And it did work. We connected pipes to the school.
“Also, initially when the issue arose, we asked the company to provide four water tanks, but they only provided one,” he said.
The School Principal announced that examination classes will resume on Monday 24 July as they now have access to fresh water.
Classes were suspended four weeks ago due to the water contamination issue done to the main water source the school is using.
By Alex Dadamu