The Solomon Islands Government through the Ministry of Police National, Security and Correctional Service (MPNSCS) is taking necessary steps towards the establishment of a Border and Patrol Boat Outpost on Lofung in the Shortland Islands.
The Government of Australia is funding the project, which is going to be a landmark project once completed to enhance border security management at the SI/PNG Border and other related maritime waters.
A statement from the MPNSCS today clarified that the development is not intended to stop traditional border crossing but it will enhance regulatory measures in security management, while at the same time ensure border crossing is done in a more regulated, monitored and structured manner. In addition, it will help in deterring illegal and potential trans-national activities along the maritime border.
The statement said traditional border crossing is being implemented in the Traditional Border Crossing Agreement between PNG and SIG. However given our State of Public Emergency at the Western Border, the traditional border crossing arrangement is still suspended.
As the lead implementing agency, the MPNSCS appreciated the positive progress and partnership between the Government and the FAMOA Trust Board of Shortland Islands in moving negotiations to secure land for the project despite internal interruptions regarding land ownership.
The ministry commended the undivided support by Chiefs and people of Shortland Islands to allow the project to proceed.
The Ministry also acknowledged internal concerns regarding tribal ownership of the land and assured those concerned that the Government is working closely with FAMOA Trust Board, which holds the Perpetual Estate title to address those concerns.
In addition, the Ministry is encouraging the FAMOA Trust Board to resolve any internal concerns regarding the identified project land at Lofung.
“Whilst the Ministry is eager to pursue the project, we would earnestly want the matter of land differences be sorted out as agreed in our initial MOUs between the Ministry, FTB and members of the concerned parties. Hence, it is the Ministry’s kind plea to FTB to seek amends or understanding with the concerned parties to ensure that an amicable solution can be reached,” the statement said.
The establishment of the Border and Patrol Boat Outpost will encourage social and economic development along the SI/PNG Border, which has shown much potential in cross border trade.
The Ministry is optimistic that parties involved can reach a way forward to settle internal concerns.