The Guadalcanal Provincial Government (GPG) is concerned about the offloading of materials at a log pond outside of Honiara.
The GPG through a statement says they have received reports of suspicious activities by residents and observers living around the area. The reports reaching them said the practices have been on-going for sometime, especially in late evenings. In a particular incident that occured on May 27, it was reported that the materials were purposely for the 2023 Pacific Games.
However, Finance Permanent Secretary, Mckinnie Dentana said clearance of the materials were done as per customs regulation.
“As far as the formal process of clearance by customs, the discharge of the cargo is formally cleared by customs. All government revenue due for the government to collect from the cargo, we have received in terms of customs view”, Dentana said in the Oversight committee’s radio talkback show.
He said all the government’s responsible bodies that represent health, quarantine and police are at the site to ensure that the company complies with the government’s regulations during this time of crisis.
Currently the Shipping Exemption Committee gives approval to vessels seeking exemptions from the government’s quarantine period of 14 days. Their role is to ensure the country is protected from COVID-19 and to make sure the country’s economic health is being looked after and that no unnecessary pressure is passed onto consumers who are already under pressure economically. The Exemption Committee’s core group are the health quarantine, agriculture (biosecurity), immigration and customs.
It was only recently that a disappointed Prime Minister issued a stern warning for ship operators and private businesses.
“To all private and commercial companies working in Solomon Islands. This country welcomes you all to work in partnership with us to grow our economy and in doing so you also benefit. However, each of you has a duty of care not to engage in activities that undermine the safety and security of this country and its people from COVID-19,” the Prime Minister said.
Prime Minister Sogavare said COVID-19 is not a joke.
“The safety and security of my people is paramount,” he said.
He said any action taken by any company that undermines the safety and security of this country as aptly demonstrated by the rejected charter flight, and the chartered ‘landing craft that has brought two COVID-19 positive cases to our doorstep’ will not be tolerated.
Following the unloading of materials for the PG2023 at the private business area, the Guadalcanal Provincial Government is questioning whether they, as the provincial government, should also be informed of such activities happening in their jurisdiction.
The GPG said since a lot of developments are happening in the country now and it is high time the Provincial Government Act 1997 be reviewed to cater for future developments of this sort.