Solomon Islands. Move the bottle necks to agricultural progress and rural development enabling economic progress.
One rather wet morning in Honiara the traffic was in gridlock and I got out of my car, being in police uniform, and began directing the traffic to get things moving.
The bottleneck was at the traffic island adjacent to the then ‘hot bread shop.’
Soon enough the vehicles started moving along much faster while I remained doing traffic control.
I realized the traffic island, large as it was and then overgrown with weeds, was a contributing factor to the congestion on the main road. I requested the Public Works Department and the Honiara City Council to consider what could be done to make the traffic flow easier.
I was somewhat surprised when not too long afterwards the traffic island was completely removed in what must have been an over-night operation, the roadway levelled where the impediment had stood, the road resurfaced and, like magic, the traffic began to move much quicker from that time on.
I am relating this story because as much as I was frustrated by the snail’s pace of the traffic on that occasion, I quite often get frustrated by what I still see as obstacles to Solomon Islands progress.
I have in mind the needs of the vast majority of the rural poor scratching out a subsistence living with crop growing now, more than ever before, threatened with the vagaries of the weather induced by climate change and exacerbated to greater extent today because the threat of coronavirus which has seen many people laid off work and hitherto support from family members, like sons and daughters with work in Honiara dried-up.
The Solomon Islands government is genuine, I believe, I wanting to bring about change by way of development and support and no doubt has been impeded in plans due to the unexpected pandemic we have come to know as COVID-19.
Once the threat over COVID -19 is over, I would really urge the government to seek the further assistance of Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Israel and Singapore to remove the bottlenecks to progress that have held back the Solomon Islands, and especially its rural people, for 42 long years.
I mention Israel because the Government of Israel is known to have the knowledge, technical know-how and skills to make the desert productive. Likewise, in Singapore, hydroponic farming methods have seen the country prosper from urban farming sufficient to feed a population of several million people.
The Solomon Islands has rich soil and with hands-on development assistance the country could become a major exporter of food crops in a relatively few years.