By Jeremy Gwao/Freelance Reporter
Waste management is one of Solomon Island’s priority areas as the host country for the 17th Pacific Games edition, next year.
In Honiara, with an almost 80,000 population, waste management is still a challenge.
The game’s timeline is set to be held for two weeks in November 2023 here in the capital with an estimated 5,000 athletes coming from countries in the Pacific region.
The pacific games is the biggest sporting event in the Pacific region and the Solomon Islands is looking forward to hosting it next year.
Currently, the preparation is gearing up and plans are taking shape to complete the construction of key game facilities scheduled anytime between May to June next year.
The Games Organizing Committee (GOC) is looking at prioritizing recycling as responsiveness that will be undertaken during the two weeks of the games.
According to GOC, the waste estimated to be collected per day during the games is up to 3,000 tons which is equivalent to 42,000 tons of waste in two weeks.
“This is a priority area that needs to be addressed and we are working on it to ensure that the Pacific Games 2023 is environmentally friendly,” said Jack Smith, a Senior Manager for Venues and Games Service.
The GOC planning committee at the moment is working on a system that will mitigate waste management during the games. These are food Waste reduction, partnering with local stakeholders or businesses for single-use bottle water- reusable water bottles. This system will try to focus on the ‘Reuse, Reduce and Recycle’ initiative.
Ongoing discussion on whether to seek a new land field location or to continue using the Ranadi land field side for all disposal of rubbish is still not finalised but soon that will be set before the games.
City Clerk, Justus Denni recently confirmed that his office has already identified a new landfill site as the current landfill at Ranadi has now reached its maximum capacity and has no space to accommodate additional wastes as big as the one expected during the games.
Dr Jimmie Rodgers, chairman of the National Hosting Authority, was very positive about the idea of having new locations before the games and stated, “We are looking at locations that will be suitable for the dumpsites and at the moment we have identified a few locations.
“Priorities are in place to finish with the construction and put a face on the new game sites but with assurance, waste management is one lacking issue.”
In a report by the Deputy Director of Environment, Debra Kereseka, she mentioned that managing waste and controlling pollution in the Solomon Islands will require a national effort that includes high-level political leadership, effective policy and legal frameworks and developing appropriate institutional capacity and changing attitudes starting at individuals in the community, provincial and national level.
Lacking the knowledge of waste segregation, reuse and recycling is one of many contributing factors that will ensure that it must be done before the games.
Honiara City Council is working closely with a few of its partners to ensure Honiara maintains good clean practices.
“We are trying our very best to ensure that all the machinery sites do a cleaning up also because waste produced every day is increasing and now has become a challenge,” said George Bogese, Honiara City Council.
In collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), one of HCC’s project sites is the Ranadi dump site, however, according to the two parties, it was a great challenge.
“It takes time for people to understand doing waste segregation beginning right from their homes,” the Counselor of the Embassy of Japan in the Solomon Islands, Norimasa Yoshida said.
Separation of solid waste at the home level is a good practice and will go a long way in keeping our environment clean.
“Environmental education will be done in the coming months before games and during the event to ensure that everyone is on the same fight for solid waste management,” Jack Smith added.
Honiara City also anticipates raising the standard of beautification in preparation for the Pacific Games in 2023.
President of the Pacific Council, Vidhya Lakhan in his visit to the games project sites recently expressed how impressed he was to see the ongoing developments in preparation for the pacific’s biggest sporting event and he even made mention that waste management is one priority area no one should miss.
“Everyone should take ownership and keep Honiara in a clean state because the world will now see how beautiful the Solomon Islands is during the games.
“Showcase Honiara in a clean and safe image, we don’t want to make Honiara an image that nobody will not want to visit. It’s the population of the Solomon Islands that will have to be behind this to help clean up,” Mr Lakhan said.
According to Jimmy Rogers, a few locations have already been spotted but are yet to be consulted and confirmed.
In contrast to that, Honiara City Council is also eyeing a new location for a new waste dump site.
Mr Denni said “despite the challenge, the council is now gearing up its preparation to make Honiara a clean city ahead of next year’s Pacific Games.
“HCC is preparing to make Honiara clean during the games.”