Minister Declares Land Acquisition

Tina River Hydro Land Acquisition Process

The Minister of Lands, Housing and Survey, the Honourable Joseph Onika, has made a declaration that a portion of land is needed for the public purpose of generating hydro-electric power for distribution by Solomon Islands Electricity Authority within Guadalcanal. A copy of the declaration was published in the Solomon Islands’ Government Gazette on 21 August 2014.
This declaration begins the acquisition process under Division 2 of Part V of the Land and Titles Act.

What is the effect of the declaration?

The declaration gives the Commissioner of Lands the right to use and occupy the land on behalf of the Government.
It removes customary rights of ownership or usage in the land and changes those rights into the right to receive payment for their value.

What does the declaration mean for people who have an interest in the land?

The declaration means that people with an interest in the acquired land can now submit claims for the value of their interest to the Commissioner of Lands.
These claims can be claims of primary ownership, or claims of secondary or other rights in the land, including gardens or access to resources.
The Commissioner of Lands will determine the validity of each claim and assess the value of the customary interest.

What should be included in a claim?

The claims should detail evidence of the customary ownership or interest claimed. This could include customary evidence such as tambu sites, genealogies, and migration routes, as well as any supporting House of Chiefs or Court decisions.
Claims may also include letters of support from neighbouring landowning tribes, or in the case of a secondary interest, recognition of that interest by the primary landowners.

What assistance is available to prepare claims?

Anyone needing assistance to prepare their claim can contact the Guadalcanal Provincial Secretary at:
PO Box GC7, Honiara
Telephone 20041, 22051 or Fax 20042

All claimants are encouraged to speak with the Provincial Secretary before submitting their claim.

Any costs incurred in preparing a claim can be included as part of the claim. Successful claimants will receive a reimbursement for their costs where the Commissioner considers the cost to be reasonable and proper.

When must claims be submitted?

All claims must be submitted to the Commissioner of Lands by 21 November 2014.

How will the value of the land be determined?

Expert valuers, registered under the Valuers Act, will value the land including the resources on it, such as millable timber.
More information on how this process will work for individual claims can be discussed with the Provincial Secretary.

The Commissioner of Lands will also appoint a valuer to assist her to assess claims.

Will there be an opportunity to present claims to the Commissioner?

Yes, once claims are submitted there will be an option, for those who wish, to meet with the Commissioner of Lands to discuss their claim.

What happens if a claim is successful?

The Commissioner of Lands will pay the claimant the assessed value of their interest in the land.

What options are there if a Claimant is not satisfied with the Commissioner’s decision?

If a claim is rejected, or a claimant is not satisfied with the payment offered, the claimant may appeal the Commissioner’s decision to the High Court.

Can the acquisition be challenged?

Yes, anyone with an interest in the acquired land can apply to the High Court to quash the declaration. Any such appeal must be made within 6 months of the publication of the declaration (21 February 2015). The High Court may quash the declaration if it decides that the purpose for which the land was acquired was not a public purpose.

What happens at the end of the process?

If there is no appeal to quash the acquisition, or the appeal is unsuccessful, the land will become registered land and the perpetual estate will be owned by the Commissioner of Lands, on behalf of the Government.
After registration, the Commissioner of Lands will transfer the perpetual estate to the Tina Core Land Company. This company will be a joint venture company owned equally by landowners and Government which will lease the land to the selected developer.