The Buhugaro Tribe, one of the five landowning groups of the Tina Core Land Owning Company (TCLC), have purchased a new vehicle for commercial use as part of a partnership agreement with the Solomon Islands Government's Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification (MMERE) and the Tina River Hydro Project Office's Community Benefit Sharing Project (CBSP).
The vehicle, which costs more than $400,000 SBD, is currently being leased to the CBSP team for 14 months and is a great example of the Project taking community ideas on-board following consultations with landowning tribes during the Project’s preparation phase back in 2010. During this agreement, the Buhugaro Tribe will benefit through monthly fee rentals collected from the lease agreement.
Deputy Project Manager Fred Conning said the signing of the Vehicle Lease Agreement, is an excellent example of the Project's effort to include local content in the different aspects. “Having the participation of indigenous communities in the Project ensures there is a sense of ownership and this can guarantee the sustainability of the relationships between the project and its host communities,” he said.
Sam Kamilo, one of the TCLC's directors and a representative of the Buhugaro tribe, which is made up of two communities in the Central Guadalcanal, Pao and Tita Village, expressed gratitude towards the Government and the CBSP for their cooperation.
"The vehicle is currently leased to the CBSP to assist them in visiting us in the villages for consultations and work programs. We are confident that this relationship will be of mutual benefit to parties in the lease agreement," he said.
Mr. Kamilo advised that his tribe has seen the commercial opportunities associated with the development of the Tina Project and want to try something new which utilised the funds acquired from the land compensation aspect of the Project.
“The goal is to invest our money in order to be commercially successful and the recent purchase of the vehicle to lease to the Project is part of that plan,” he said.
"We know that life is hard and we believe that investing in this opportunity is essential to make sure that everyone in our tribe benefits equally from the dividend.”
He said the tribe can wait for the royalty payment from the sale of electricity in four years but again, that is money that they only receive as an entitlement to them.
“The tribe should be using available funds to create other opportunities and the current arrangement is the first step in that path.”
He also urged other tribes to use their money properly and to believe that anything is possible if they plan, prepare and collaborate.
During the delivery of the vehicle, CBSP Coordinator Francis Kapini praised the Buhugaro tribe for taking the initiative to invest in the vehicle, claiming that this is the first of its kind of partnership between the Government and Landowners and a great example of the Project using local initiatives to benefit everyone.