Last week the RSIPF fully re-occupied the Naha Police Station after it had been refurbished by the AFP Policing Partnership Program (RAPP) after it was partly burnt down during rioting in Honiara last November.
The same police station had been built during the time RAMSI was deployed to the Solomon Islands
Although always an important sub police station in a densely populated area of Honiara it was just a donated building contractor’s hut when I arrived in 1997 and there were no funds available to convert it into a function police station until the arrival of RAMSI.
On the day I arrived to take over command of the local police service, on the 16 July 1997, I was met at Henderson Airport by a welcoming party and assigned a car driven by police constable Ronnie, and accompanied by Chief Inspector Doris Sukaria, my aide for the day.
While driving to the Medana Hotel where I was to stay for the first few days Ronnie concentrated on his driving, avoiding potholes in the road, while Doris pointed outbuildings along the way
As the National Referral Hospital (NRH) came into view, I asked Doris if she knew whether any police members were then in hospital as patients She told me the Inspector in charge of Naha police station was then admitted the men’s medical ward.
I told Ronnie to go to the hospital and on arrival there Doris took me to his bedside and introduced me to the officer and to his wife sitting by his bed.
I gathered he was surprised by my visit not knowing me and judged this from the pijin conversation he had with Doris and his wife
The Inspector was clearly weak and unwell but I chatted for a while before wishing him well and saying I would visit him at Nana police station on his return to duty.
I did as promised some weeks later when I knew the officer had simply willed himself out of hospital to again take charge of his station.
With the refurbishing of the Naha Police station I am reminded of the determination, sense of duty and the courage of the ailing police Inspector I will always associate with the old sub-station during the years from 1997 to 1999.