29 January 2019
Startling new estimates of Honiara’s population increase and urban land supply
Urban land supply a ticking time bomb, claims local Land Expert Dr. Joe Foukona writing in the Solomon Star newspaper.
The rural to urban migration is a situation that I have had knowledge of for over 20 years and while the time bomb Dr Foukona has never exploded in that time there has been evidence of the over-population impacted on water borne illnesses, congested roads, vandalism, housebreaking offences and social issues involving domestic violence, some rioting and, of course, the tragedy that spilled over in late 1998 and continued till well into 2003 when civil unrest occurred due to the resentment over land issues that by now is well documented but awaiting a full exposure of the facts in the delayed, official release, of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
What Dr Foukona said today is well worth considering at an important juncture when the country will soon see a new crop of government Ministers taking up office after the outcome of the general election in March.
One must hope that the very difficult issues of urban land supply, rural employment and health concerns will get the attention that has been missing for two decades in my own view.
Quoting the Solomon Star article it read:
“The Honiara City urban land supply is running out whilst people are encroaching into the customary land outside the town boundary.
“This can be seen as a ticking time bomb if authorities do not act now, says local Land Expert Dr Joe Foukona.
“He made this staggering sentiment during the Yumi Toktok Forum (YTTF), open forum in Honiara last week, as a guest speaker.
“The urban State land in Solomon Islands is under a great deal of pressure not because of increasing informal settlers but because of its Land Tenure System, he said.
“Dr Foukona stressed that due to the rapid increase in rural-to-urban migration and population growth, land in Honiara has become a limited resource.
“As a result, many business people, middle class income earners from other provinces like Malaita, Isabel, and Western including Guadalcanal landowners continue to struggle to access and acquire urban land.
“He added that one of the effects of urbanization to the land tenure system is the increase of informal settlements in Honiara.
“Ministry of lands and other related land authorities must act now or else we are going to feel the pinch of this issue in the near future,” the senior University of South Pacific (USP) Law lecturer, said.
“Dr Foukona also pointed out that the rate of urbanisation in Honiara is about 4.7 percent per year in terms of expansion.
“It is estimated that by 2050 the population in Honiara will increase to about 350,000 which is actually 250,000 more than the current Honiara population,” he added.
“A Guadalcanal landowner also spoke out during the forum and said the government must be responsible when it comes to land matters around Honiara.
“People from other provinces are starting to slowly creeping into our customary land and claimed it as TOL,” the landowner said.
“He added that the government must also address these land issues around the town boundary.
“Meanwhile, Dr Foukona told the open forum that this is an issue now and the authorities must manage our land inside the town boundary to avoid future catastrophe.”
For a fuller understanding of the urban land concerns in Honiara one might read the excellent paper – “Urban Land in Solomon Islands: Powers of Exclusion and Counter-Exclusion Joseph D. Foukona and Matthew G. Allen.” This paper can be downloaded from the internet.