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Logging activity affects Lokapagoma Community’s river

LOKAPAGOMA Community in Northwest Choiseul is suffering from environment and health problems caused by the impact of New Venture logging company’s operation.

The logging operation took place on top of Lokapagoma River where the community usually uses for swimming, washing, cooking and drinking.

According to reports by Nerio Ulemiki, the media coordinator for Christ the King Parish at Voruvoru, New Venture Company did not build a bridge but used the river bed as a skid road to pull logs and trimmed trees over it leaving off cuts in the river.

“Due to the impact caused by the company’s operation, the river became dirty and turned brown like Milo in colour,” said Ulemiki.

“Fresh water eel’s, fish, shells and other living things in the river were found dead due to the spill effects of fuel and oils from the company’s machines and starches of certain trees that pollutes and poisons the river,” he said.

“Some of the people swimming in the affected river are experiencing scratches and sores on their bodies as well,” he added.

During January this year, Elder Mackenzie Gava of Lokapagoma Community had written a letter of complaint to the Forestry Division at Taro in which officers went to the concession area for a check on the operation.

They told Lokapagoma Community that they had ordered the company to operate within the 100-metre boundary away from the river as required by the standard logging agreement of the Solomon Islands government.

However, it is said that the company is ignoring the order since it was given by continuously operating on the river.

Lokapagoma Community now travels a long way to Saqetumi for swimming, washing and collecting of water for cooking and drinking.

There is still no assurance amongst the Forestry Division, New Venture logging company, licensee and the landowners regarding their plea for assistance.

Therefore Lokapagoma Community is now making a strong call on the ministries responsible for the environment to consider the matter seriously in carrying out assessments.

Lokapagoma Community are now ordering New Venture Company to compensate or assist them to sustain their livelihood because of the damage caused.