Call for the UXO threat to be taken seriously in SI and an expression of sadness from the US Ambassador to the Solomon Islands
Following the tragic bomb incident last Sunday in which an Aviation Engineer lost his life and three others injured, two seriously, the HCC and Guadalcanal Province together with the national government must now take the threats of UXO’s to the public of Honiara and Guadalcanal very seriously, said the former Special Secretary to the Government Andrew Muaki
His call came after the aviation engineer at the Ministry of Communication and Aviation (MCA) was the victim of the tragic bomb blast in Honiara on Sunday 9th May.
The incident occurred on the property of a private residence where a group of church youths were preparing food outdoors for a fundraising event.
Speaking to the Solomon Star paper from Australia, Mr. Muaki said all government entities must enact or promulgate regulations to address the proper detection of disposal of UXOs before authorised infrastructure or dwellings are constructed in their jurisdictions.
“This government must not allow another loss of lives before they act,” he expressed.
He further added that with the increase of people drifting into Honiara and Guadalcanal Province from other provinces, the national government along with HCC and Guadalcanal province must now address the threats of UXO’s head on.
Meanwhile, according to SafeGround report obtained by the Solomon Star newspaper the legacy of fighting that took place between the Japanese and US-Allied forces during World War Two continues to affect all aspects of life on the Solomon Islands.
“Unexploded bombs litter the land making it useless for farming or infrastructure development,” the report stated.
In April 2015 SafeGround sent experience researchers John Rodsted and Mette Eliseuessen visited remote island communities living on land scattered with bombs.
SafeGround received funding from the Australian government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to produce a photographic exhibition and a documentary and report of the humanitarian impact explosive remnants of war have on SI communities.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also supported SafeGround with partial funding to attend the First Review Conference to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in September 2015, where the research was launched on an international stage.
In separate news, the United States (US) Ambassador to Papua New Guinea (PNG), Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu Erin McKee has said they are deeply saddened to hear of the tragic incident in Honiara this past weekend and mourn the loss of life.
The U.S Embassy has also posted their condolence statement in their Facebook.
H.E McKee in a statement told the Solomon Star newspaper that the United States (US) government, through their Department of Defense, will continue to support efforts to remove unexploded ordnance from Solomon Islands.
“Among these efforts is our ongoing partnership with Norwegian People's Aid, which has worked in Solomon Islands since 2019 to identify and dispose of unexploded ordnance,” the statement said.
The Solomon Times newspaper also reported that from 2011 to 2019, the Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement has invested over $5.1 million for the development of a national EOD capacity in the Solomon Islands and for the support for removal of unexploded ordnance (UXO).
According to other reliable sources it was believed that 70% of bombs dropped or used by Japan and the Allied forces on Guadalcanal did not go off.
Meanwhile, Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands His Excellency Dr. Lachlan Strahan has offered words of condolence to the family of the deceased.
Commissioner Strahan expressed this to the Premier of the Western Province David Gina.
The commissioner is in Western Province for a three-day visit.
On Monday he met Premier Gina where he expressed his sadness over the incident.
The deceased’s mother is an administration officer at the Western Provincial Government Office.
Commissioner Strahan expressed his shock over what happened and said it is sad to see that even after 76 years after the battle of World War II in the country, people are still becoming victims.
Sources. Solomon Star and Solomon Times Online.