By Solomon Star
3 July 2013
(Fiji Times) – People of Malaita Outer Islands (MOI) says it is time for them to move into resettlement before sea level rise could become a huge threat for them.
This was highlighted during the three days visit of the Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo to the low-lying atolls over the weekend.
The Prime Minister spent Friday to Sunday with the people of Lord Howe and Sikaiana.
Spokesperson for Pelau community in Lord Howe Chris Keungi highlighted that the issue of resettlement was raised during the political tenure of their former politician late Paul Keyumi in 1980s but nothing has been done.
He said the issue of sea level rise was real and was happening on their islands as well some parts of the country which needed to be addressed now.
"Some of the contributed factors why we really need resettlement are; over population, poor soil fertility and scarcity of land mass.
"We believe it is high time to move into resettlement," Mr Keungi said.
Similar sentiments were also raised at Luaniua community also on Lord Howe on the issue of resettlement. Samuel Kenini of Luaniua said climate change was a big threat to them.
He said they had been experiencing land erosion, highest and lowest tide, extreme weather conditions, garden crops dying due to salt water intrusion and many more.
He said the other contributing factors were land becoming scarce while population was skyrocketing.
"This has forced some of us moving to settle on other parts of the islands while others move to the small island of Luaniua," Mr Kenini added.
He suggested that if the government is planning to resettle in the bigger islands they suggest Isabel province as their first choice.
In response deputy premier of Malaita province Alick Mae'aba said two sites had been identified for the resettlement program.
He said one of the sites was Airahu in Central Kwara'ae and Afio in South Malaita.
Mr Maeaba said a taskforce committee had been set up to look into the progress and development of the resettlement program.