Roha Tribe members of Central Guadalcanal have received $6.9 million from the government yesterday in a brief handover ceremony in Honiara.
In handing over the cheque, Commissioner of Lands Nelson Naopu thanked the executive of the tribe and their members for their support and hard work in getting this far.
“I thank you very much for your support in moving the progress of the project this far. On behalf of the government I would like to congratulate you all for continuing to support the work of the government in moving this important project forward. Despite all the hassles, you have proven to be a trustworthy partner. Having said this, I must also add that this is not the end of our partnership, and we will continue to support you in the remaining jobs yet to be achieved. We want to ensure you are happy and the government is happy,” said Naoapu.
In response, Roha Cooperative Chairman, Daniel Una, also thanked the Commissioner for his support and great encouragement that has resulted positively in this payment.
“Without that support and strong leadership at all Government level, we wouldn’t be here today. It’s a two-way process, and we are so happy to be part of this important process of the Project. As you rightly said, there’s more work ahead and my tribe look forward to continuing in this partnership, so we can continue to maintain our relationship stipulated under the Process Agreement,” Una said.
The $6.9 million payment is the first in a series of benefits agreed with the core landowning tribes in a Process Agreement signed in 2014. “The valuation payment is more than the minimum the core tribes signed up to,” Mr Una said. “We’re excited to see this higher amount paid out in full, and we look forward to receiving the other benefits agreed with Government as the Project progresses, including royalties from the power and a 50% joint venture share.”
Mr Una also thanked the government and the Tina Hydro Project Office for their strong support to his tribe and stressed his executive and tribe members will continue to ensure the work of the project progresses as expected.
The Roha tribe will share part of the $6.9 million to its more than 160 members through individual bank accounts, reserve some for investments and use some funds to fulfil cultural obligations such as payment to sister tribes, reciprocate those who presented chupus or cultural presents to the tribe, a norm in Guadalcanal culture.
The next tribe to follow after Roha’s progress is Uluna Sutahuri – two of five core tribes of the Tina River Hydro project.