Nothing to show for
Renbel public disturbed by lack of development in preparation for SG 2018
THERE is an unsettling silence in Tigoa, Renbel province’s capital, which is supposed to by now be actively preparing to host the 2018 Solomon Games.
With approximately 16 months left and two major facilities to be built, plus tonnes of other preparations, there is literally nothing happening on the ground at Tigoa.
Concerned public of Renbel province are becoming increasingly worried as this year enters its third month and no visible development witnessed in the province’s station capital.
At the head of all fears, lies the reality of Renbel’s current capacity to host the national event; Tigoa does not have a stadium nor a multi-purpose hall, and is only riddled with informal and makeshift playing spots that altogether scream the urgency to have preparations begin as soon as possible.
The only semi-standard facilities are found in neighbouring island of Bellona, but they too are also in need of upgrading.
A browse through the Renbel Facebook forums’ discussions shows many fear that if preparations do not begin soon, Renbel may not be ready when Game-time comes, thus would see the event shifted back to Honiara as it did last year.
A spokesperson for one of the Renbel forums, when visiting Island Sun, posed the questions: “When will preparations begin? Who is/are to be blamed for this lack of urgency in start preparing for the 2018 Solomon Games?”
Island Sun understands that funds have just been made available to Renbel province on Friday March 3 by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), fulfilling the first part of a grant-agreement signed with the province.
Renbel Premier Collin Singamoana had signed the grant-agreement with the MHA on January 30 in which the Ministry would release funds by way of grant towards building of infrastructures for the Games.
The agreement paves the way for the release of the first tranche of funds worth $3million. This goes towards the building of a Multi-purpose hall, which marks the first phase of preparations.
The second phase, which would cost the government $7million, will follow later after the Multi-purpose hall is completed. The final phase of preparation development proposes the upgrading of existing facilities, most of them in Bellona – and is projected to cost more than $3million.
It had taken more than a month after the grant-agreement signing for funds to become available.
Meanwhile, an interview with Renbel Premier, Hon Collin Singamoana last week reveals that the province has already done everything required of it, including; allocating land for development, identifying existing facilities to be upgraded, and setting up a taskforce to oversee the implementation of preparation plans hand-in-hand with the MHA.
“The Renbel province has done everything required of us and right now we are waiting for the Ministry of Home Affairs to play their part before preparations get moving again,” Premier Singamoana said.
Ministry of Home Affairs Permanent Secretary George Palua, through email correspondence with Island Sun, did not disclose reasons to the delay in availing funds for Renbel province, but reassured public that the Ministry is afoot in its commitment to supporting Renbel prepare for the Games.
“There is no specific allocation for Solomon games in my Development Budget but the normal annual Sports Development Budget itemised as ‘Provincial Sports Infrastructure Development’.
“As it is, it is a policy which the Ministry can reprioritise, some or all, to say Solomon Games 2018 Infrastructures development, so people need not be alarmed at all, least of the Executive Committee.
“May I again advice that reconsideration has been given to the fact that due to the urgency of the situation steps have now been taken to fulfil the requirements of the Grant Agreement to enable the payment of the funds to meet the construction of the Multi-purpose Hall for the Solomon Games in RenBell Province.
“That means the Ministry would not now be involved in the Tendering of the Hall but have handed over wholesomely to the Province.”
The ball is now in the Renbel province’s side of the court, and the waiting game is on to see how fast the province’s Solomon Games Taskforce can move preparations along.
Renbel province had won the bid to host the Solomon Games for 2016 after the event was successfully hosted in Tulagi in 2014.
However, the Games had to be moved back to Honiara last year after the province was deemed unprepared and not ready to host the event.
After the Games last year, the province was once again re-awarded the opportunity to host the Games for 2018.
Sports is a popular entity in the small province of Rennell and Bellona, a fact that has seen Renbel athletes dominating the country’s athlete contingency to the Pacific Games.
Hosting such a national event is held in high esteem among the Renbel people.