Tuesday, 20 July 2010 9:03 AM

Rice Shortage As Election Looms

There is rice shortage in Honiara, along with most of the other main provincial centres in the Solomon Islands, as the election looms.

Bags of rice are being shipped in the thousands to villages around the country, with candidates preparing for a sudden influx of supporters.

"Yesterday was quite busy for us, we've made at least three trips so far and all you could see is bags of rice being loaded," said one crew member of a midsized passenger boat.

"I would say in the past three trips alone we've shipped at least 350 bags of 20kg rice, and most are from intending candidates."

A quick drive around Honiara also showed empty store rooms once filled with bags of rice. "We had three months worth of supply all sold within two weeks," stated one shop owner. "I have not seen anything like this, there is much more demand for rice then the holiday season, including Christmas."

Thousands are going back to their Constituencies to vote, and intending candidates are expected to feed them during their stay.

The Price Control Unit says that it is aware of the shortage and has monitored the few remaining stocks to ensure shop owners do not increase their price. New stock is expected to arrive early next week.

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By STEVE BANI Vura Heights, East Honiara
By GEOFFREY MAURIASI USP, Lacuala Campus, Fiji
By CHARLES KOULI Gizo, Western Province