Aviation row in Solomon Islands becomes subject of inquiry


HONIARA (eTN) – An inquiry into a row between the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Jeffrey Wickham, and senior staff of the ministry started this week in the capital city of Solomon Islands.

The row started a week ago following a meeting between various departmental heads of the ministry that resulted in a letter by the Civil Aviation Advisor Bill MacGregor to Wickham suggesting he should step down.

In the letter, MacGregor accused Wickham of abuse of civil aviation fund, nepotism in awarding contracts, poor financial control of the civil aviation funds and failed to seek technical advises from experts within the ministry.

Senior department heads have raised various issues during the meeting that were highlighted by MacGregor in his letter to Wickham.

But Wickham accused the civil aviation advisor and senior staff of doing nothing over the past months in improving various functions and infrastructures to improve Honiara’s international airport.

Prime Minister Derek Sikua last week called for an inquiry into the row and set the terms of reference of the inquiry.

The terms of reference will not only be confined to the complaints made against the Permanent Secretary, but also enquire into the entire management and the operations of the Civil Aviation Division and Authority.

The chairman of the newly established Civil Aviation Authority, attorney general Gabriel Suri, has been appointed chairman of the internal inquiry panel.

The chairman was quoted by the prime minister’s office as saying that the inquiry will deal into specific roles played by each person in the complaints raised against the permanent secretary, officers, consultants, advisors, staff and other persons in the Civil Aviation ministry.

The inquiry is due to be completed in the next coming days.