The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, Karen Galokale hosted a meeting on May 25 with local Commercial UXO companies to explore ways to partner in getting rid of deadly WWII Unexploded Ordnances in the country.
The meeting gathered together representatives from six local UXO companies including Solsearch, SIEOTEC, Safe Signals, SI Battle Area Clearance, SRX and Clear Grounds.
According to PS Galokale, these companies have worked around the country clearing UXOs where required and it is appropriate that the National Government through the RSIPF Bomb Disposal Team partner with them in this process.
Already, these commercial companies play an important role in supporting international companies with sub-contracts, providing UXO search capabilities to infrastructure projects, and supporting private landowners in examining their land for unexploded ordnances and other dangerous WWII remains.
The meeting provided a unique opportunity to discuss the possibility of forming an Association of UXO clearance companies. This would allow the commercial operators to interact with the Government, international donors, and contracting companies with a single, unified voice.
Other topics discussed were the difficulty the companies faced in obtaining insurance cover for their workers including getting liability cover. The meeting also discussed the need for further refinement of the draft national UXO standards, and the need for training support to local companies to be able to comply with the necessary standards.
Supporting the workshop were representatives from the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) – Mr Ian Mansfield and Ms Noor Zangana. Also present were representatives from the internationally recognized organization, the HALO Trust. The HALO Trust is funded by the US Department of State to resume the national UXO survey in the Solomon Islands.
Mr Simon Conway from the HALO Trust said they were pleased that their project had been approved by Cabinet, and that they were looking forward to starting their survey activities.
Ms Galokale acknowledged the participants for the important role played by their companies to make Solomon Islands a safe place for its citizens.