Disputing Tribes against the FAMOA Council of Chiefs and Trust Board in the Shortland Islands today (21 June) held a traditional reconciliation ceremony at Tuha to say sorry for the past internal impasse over the land allocated for the Border and Patrol Boat Outpost at Lofang.
The symbolic ceremony now ironed out disputes regarding the land in question and gave assurance for the development to proceed.
A major groundbreaking ceremony is taking place at Lofang Wednesday this week.
More than 200 people including Chiefs, Elders, Women, Youth and Children from the disputing communities gathered at Tuha to exchange traditional food and cash and most of all to shake hands, pray and smile to each other since the dispute that kept them away from each other.
In his acceptance speech, Chairman of the FAMOA Council of Chiefs and Trust Board, Chief Lawrence Hotomo said the ceremony builds a bridge that now connect the disputing parties together, which gave the assurance to the Government and Donor partners the confidence the allow the project to proceed without disturbances over land.
“The ceremony shows the way forward for us people of Shortlands that our traditions are alive and well in settling our internal disputes”.
“We are very happy that this ceremony helped us to come together to say sorry and accept each other once again to set the way forward for development in our Islands” Chief Hotomo said.
He added that the vision of the ceremony is to settle their differences to make way for the development of this milestone project.
Chief Maurice Boch of Gome Tribe told the gathering that he and his people say sorry for their differences to the FAMOA and are now willing to sacrifice their patience and support to the National Border Security plans and economic development aspirations of the people of Shortlands.
“Our long Journey has come to the river where we shall cross over to the other side and work together with our Council of Chiefs and Trust Board to benefit our people,” Chief Boch said.
The ceremony was witnessed by visiting senior government officials, the police, FAMOA Chiefs and people of surrounding communities that expressed joy through traditional dancing and music.
Top leaders from the National Government and the Australian High Commission in Honiara are expected to attend the groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday this week.