Malaita Province has launched its Land Reform Program.
This Land Reform aims at settling land related issues in the province while setting a new foundation for the future development of the province.
Premier Peter Ramohia in a statement issued this week says his MART Government has put into motion the Reform Program although he admitted it will be a long, complex , challenging and sensitive road ahead.
“The development of Malaita (and Solomon Islands as a whole) may be a mountain to climb but the peak is not beyond reach.” Ramohia says.
“This is the seed that we must grow and nurture for the future because we are only custodians of our customary land and resources.” Premier Ramohia says.
He said this is why a Commission and a Land Trust board is suitably placed to work with chiefs, tribal owners, investors, developers, stakeholders, and governments and must anchor this Vision well for future generations to continue with the platform.
Premier Ramohia also highlighted that the land reform Malaita is pursuing is the laying of the Vision foundation in laws, policy and framework and the work to achieve this Vision will continue once the foundation is in order.
“At this point in time there is no law in place to close the ownership of customary land by tribal owners and therefore this file is still open. This is the main reason why dispute/disagreement has been happening now and bound to happen in future (examples Bina, Suava etc) thus resulting in no development in Malaita – lack of implementation of DCCG priority Malaitan projects.” Ramohia says.
Premier Ramohia says for development to progress more quickly and smoothly, we need to anchor, protect and recognize the customary land tenure system and systemically close the file of customary land ownership by anchoring this in law or in other words the customary land ownership by the tribal land owners is “cast in stone”.
He says the current land law is about land alienation and conversion and as we have been experiencing this only encourages tribal individual members fighting for ownership and leadership etc. (e.g. logging operations taking place throughout the country and numerous associated problems).
“If the current law continues, Auki and Malaita will become a place where foreigners will continue to excel since there is no law to anchor and protect tribal land owners.” Premier Ramohia says.
He says the long term Vision for development of Malaita (and country) must be rooted in a foundation of “inalienation laws”.
“This is the focus of the land reform pursued by Malaita.” Ramohia says.
Premier Ramohia further stated Malaitan tribal customary land must be anchored legally under the constitution and subsequent legislations enabling a Commission, a Land Trust Board, chiefs and tribal owners – closing past, present and future or in other words we are closing the file on this tenure.
“This is the Vision.” Ramohia says.
He says this is a cry for Malaita and national cause, process and remedies for the sake of anchoring, protecting, and participation of our present generation as well as future generations. Malaita is pursuing this land reform as a strategy for development of our beloved Province.