Submitted by drupal on Tue, 2008-02-19 11:31. Headlines
By MOFFAT MAMU
VANGUNU Oil Palm in Western Province reportedly laid off hundreds of its
workers last week.
The company is operated by Silvania Products Ltd, a Malaysian logging
Reports from Vangunu said the workers were laid off because the project
was not operating in accordance to government requirements.
Many of the redundant employees are now being transported back to their
respective villages around the province on barges and boats.
However, Silvania Products office in Honiara yesterday denied the report.
The office said it had no knowledge of any redundancy exercise.
The office refused to comment further on the matter.
Vangunu Oil Palm Project has been operating for more than 10 years.
Part of the deal between the government and the company is for Silvania
to log the government land and replant it with 7,000 hectares of palm oil.
However, last year the Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary
(special duties) Francis Lomo said this was not done.
"Only about 700 hectares was planted and obviously logs were extracted,"
Mr Lomo said then.
"I think the area, project areas are almost logged. Now there will be
questions on why this is happening.
"But I guess there has been failures of monitoring from relevant
departments over the past, which resulted in uncontrolled logging and
also breaches of agreement."
An economic report released by Greenpeace and SIDT in April 1999 raised
many issues around the environmental, social, and economic costs and
benefits of the oil palm plantation compared with village-based
enterprises such as ecotimber, fishing, carving, and ecotourism.
It also questioned the employment predictions for the oil palm project
with most of the jobs for local people being poorly-paid unskilled workers.
However, Silvania claimed they were doing the oil palm project for the
benefit of the local people.
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