An environmental eyesore along the main road in Northwest Guadalcanal has been removed, just in time for the Games. This initiative is the result of an unusual collaboration between a government ministry and a private company.
As part of the Pacific Games preparations Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MCT) have focused on improvement of the beaches in Northwest Guadalcanal. These beaches are key tourism assets, and also very important to Honiara residents, as one of the few recreational areas available to the public.
Through the MCT Beach Development Initiative over 100 beach owners and staff have been trained on how to better manage their beaches. The training has included waste management, facilities maintenance, security, customer service and basic financial literacy.
During this project MCT staff noted a huge illegal waste dump by the side of the road, just before Bonege Beach. The dump has been growing exponentially this year as mysterious trucks from Honiara dump huge amounts of waste after dark. The dump contains car wrecks, construction waste and household rubbish. Recently a dead infant was also found amongst the garbage. This is a growing eyesore and environmental hazard which anyone traveling through this area will have noticed.
An attempt by MCT at coordinating a government removal of the illegal dump was unsuccessful, as the law does not clearly state which government body is responsible for illegally dumped waste. Due to budgetary limitations MCT were not able to contract a clean-up themselves. Eventually MCT approached Metropolis Mamara Development Ltd, who is the lease holder of the land in question. The company offered trucks, excavators and labourers, while MCT organised fuel, cleaning equipment and volunteers.
Derick Aihari, Communications Manager at Metropolis Mamara Development Ltd applauds the initiative by MCT and said; “we have been watching with growing concern and frustration as more and more waste from Honiara is being dumped on company land. Our tenants and local residents have complained about the stench, and Tourism operators up the coast have told us that the image of the region is being tarnished by the dump. We thought this would be the responsibility of the province or ministry of environment, but apparently not”
With the games only weeks away there was no time to lose, and on Wednesday and Thursday 1-2 of November Mamara and MCT will pool resources and start the removal of the illegal waste dump themselves.
MCT PS Barny Sivoro stated that the Ministry is pleased to be able to collaborate with a private enterprise to undertake this work and called for other government Ministries, private businesses and communities to come forward and assist. “Given our lack of resources MCT need to think outside the box and find partnerships with organisations, donors and private sector”. The Permanent Secretary appealed to those businesses and individuals who have been dumping waste along this road and other places to immediately stop and do the right thing.
The challenge remains to stop future illegal dumping of waste in Northwest Guadalcanal. Derick Aiharo said: “by analysing the waste we already have an idea of which businesses in Honiara are behind some of the dumping. Furthermore, we have received tips from locals about the origin of some of the trucks. Once we have cleaned the dump, we will patrol the site and install surveillance cameras. Anyone caught illegally dumping waste again will be named and shamed in the media and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
After a call for support through the Solomon Island Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) many private companies assisted with the clean-up. Generous donations were received from Nambawan flour & Delite biscuits manufacturer, King Solomon Hotel, Positive Development Ltd and Mr Takeshi Watanabe. The funds were used for garbage bags, excavator fuel and food for volunteers. Solomon Motors and Bilikiki Cruises lent trucks which were crucial to the success of the clean-up.
Volunteers from the following companies and organisations worked hard in the hot sun: MCT, Tourism Solomons, Bilikiki Cruises, Solomon Motors, Ginger Beach Retreat, Dolphin View, Travel Solomons, Iumi Tours Solomons, Australia Awards, SINU, SICCI and Northwest Guadalcanal Development Association. GP police assisted with traffic control and also conducted anti-littering awareness to passing motorists.
At the conclusion of the two days clean-up all the larger illegal waste dumps between Mamara River and Bonege Beach had been removed. The challenge now is to make sure the dumps do not fill up again. Already after one day a shop from White River was caught dumping rubbish at a site that had been cleaned only hours before. Enforcement of existing environmental laws and ordinances must be increased. MCT also call out to the local community to record and report illegal dumping. MCT will then bring the matter to the appropriate authorities.