A meeting of the resource owners in the Fiu Hydropower Project in Malaita Province in Auki last Saturday, 4th June, concluded on a positive note, the meeting convenor, Mr Bernard Bata’anisia said.
The meeting successfully ended with two resolutions aimed at further advancing the project implementation. One of the resolutions was for the establishment of formal linkages between each of the six tribal groups and the other three major stakeholders- Malaita Provincial Government, National Government and Solomon Power. The other resolution was for the convening of separate meetings for each of the tribal landowning groups from the 17th of this month (June) to the 22nd of next month (July) to allow the other three stakeholders to explain to all tribal members what the project entails and what is expected of them as resource owners.
The resource owners’ meeting followed on from the Fiu Hydropower Project stakeholders’ also held at Auki on the previous day, Friday 3rd June.
Mr Bata’anisia, a resource owner himself in the hydropower project and former Solomon Islands diplomat and also a member of the Think Tank on Malaita National Projects said, “I am very pleased to say that the resource owners’ meeting, like the stakeholders’ consultative meeting, concluded on a positive note.”
“There was a general understanding by the resource owners of the need for them to work more closely with each other and the other three stakeholders to get the project up and running within a 12-month timeframe as desired by Solomon Power.
“With this understanding, they agreed that each tribal group set up its own trust board which will serve as the formal linkages between each tribal group and the other three major stakeholders.
“They also agreed that each and every tribal group to each hold a meeting for its tribal members as follow-up from the two meetings held in Auki last week.
“The proposed tribal meetings are to be facilitated by the various tribal groups and the Malaita Provincial Government with the support of the National Government. They are specifically aimed at providing the opportunity for tribal members to ask questions or seek further clarification from their tribal leaders and representatives of the other three major stakeholders on any project-related matter they are not sure about or need additional information on.”
Mr Bata’anisia said the resource owners want to be transparent and accountable in their dealings and hence the tribal meetings.
He added that the tribal meetings are an indicator of the resource owners’ acceptance of the reminder by the General Manager of Capital Works, Solomon Power, Mr Mark Greenaway at the Fiu Hydropower Stakeholders’ consultative meeting of the importance of sorting out land issues pertaining to the hydropower project site.
Mr Greenaway had stated at the meeting that if the ultimate operation phase of the project is not achieved within a timeframe of 12-months due to land-related issues then Solomon Power will go elsewhere to invest its money. Solomon Power is the project implementer.
“The resource owners welcomed the reminder by Solomon Power as timely and important because it prompts them to work extra hard and be united if they are to ensure the accomplishment of this important project and they know that Mr Greenaway was serious about what he stated,” Mr Bata’anisia said.
He said it is indeed a positive development to see the resource owners seriously taking up the responsibility of ensuring the smooth and speedy implementation of the project.
The six landowning tribes (resource owners) in the Fiu Hydropower project are Housuhu, Aidadala, Bola, Tafubala, Gwaifata and Kwasai.