Gravel Excavation Causes Risk for Lunga River SettlersFebruary 13, 2020
BY JOHN CHRISMA– FREELANCE JOURNALIST
GRAVEL excavation works carried out by the private business companies were seen as not safe and have substantial risks to the local population living along the Lunga River in Central Guadalcanal, according to a concerned elder from the Sun Valley Community.
Private business companies have excavated tonnes of gravel per year. These companies collected cubic tonnes of gravel and sand sourced from the Lunga River Banks and Beds.
Mr. Lemek Deanne said that the excavation of gravels that took place upstream of the river was risking the communities downstream.
“They are diverting the actual flow of the river, especially when they are doing too much excavation up there,” he said.
He said that when they first settled and set up our community along the Lunga River Banks in 2009, the river flowed in its right natural direction, however, after the 2014 April floods, it diverted its course towards where the excavation works are currently occurring.
“They are excavating the eastern side of the river bank towards the western side of the Honiara International Airport so it’s now posing a lot of high health and environmental risk for the vulnerable population that is settling between the International Airport and the eastern side of Lunga River Banks.
“The excavation has also caused erosion and pollution upstream. In this case, fuels and oils from the machinery operations have leaked into the river, whilst women, men, and children are using the downstream river source for washing and swimming, therefore, it is not safe for us to use because our lives are at risks,” Mr. Deanne added.
He said the private business companies should be held responsible for their irresponsible actions by the responsible government health and environment authorities of the country.
“The excavation work has given rise to various problems that require urgent action by the authorities. These include river bank erosion, river bed degradation and deterioration of river water quality. Very soon, the excavation work will jeopardize the health of the river and the environment, including the lives of the local population who heavily rely on the river for their source of living.
“Don’t forget that water is life and please help save human lives,” the concerned elder added.
Floods, landslides and river erosion are major problems in Lunga River, where years of excavation have negatively impacted the environment. Trees, gravel, plants, and sand have been plucked up as confusion remains among government entities about who can issue excavation permits.