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The Minister of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification Hon Moses Garu today handed 2.7 million dollars to 27 tribes of Central Guadalcanal.
Minister Garu said the 2.7 million dollars is his government’s acknowledgement of the support the people have been giving to major national projects.
Mr Garu explained that each of the 27 tribes of the Tina River Hydro Development Project would each get $100,000 as part of this goodwill payment.
“This payment also confirms and implements NCRA’S policy to ensure maximum benefits accrue from the sustainable management of natural resources.”
He also added that the government recognises the access fee is a substantial sum of money and intends to ensure that the landowners have the chance to make sound decisions about how it is used.
“To ensure this happens the money will be paid into a special account held on behalf of the landowners, and under the control of the Landowner Council.
“As soon as all the entitled tribes have general consensus as to how the money should be distributed and who is entitled to share in it, the money will be released to them,” said Minister Garu.
Central Guadalcanal hosts the only gold mine operation in the country, major logging activities going way back to now and on the plains the Guadalcanal Plantations Palm Oil Limited, GPPOL.
Mr Garu also thanked donors who have been supporting his Ministry’s efforts to achieve the first hydro project for Solomon Islands.
“I would like to particularly thank the World Bank, AusAID, European Investment Bank and others for your financial support, and trust, in working with NCRA in its drive towards achieving more environment friendly energies for a more sustainable future for Solomon Islanders.”
The 2.7 million dollars is being paid by the government for an 18 month access agreement that allows for drilling activities which will determine whether a hydro is possible at the proposed site.
Other activities expected within the duration of the agreement are environment and social impact studies.
Results of these important studies are expected to be available by the end of the year.
If the results are positive the proposed Tina Hydro Development Project would proceed to the next level – a Development Phase.
And if all goes well, Solomon Islands should have its first major hydro up and running by the end of 2015.