Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands Reopen Maritime Border Marking End of COVID-19 Restrictions
The maritime border between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands was officially reopened on Tuesday, October 31, 2023, at Kangu Beach in South Bougainville. This event signified the conclusion of stringent COVID-19 restrictions implemented in 2020 to safeguard public health and safety. The initial segment of the program, involving speeches and entertainment, took place in Buin.
Representing the Solomon Islands Government at this occasion was the Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, H.E William Soaki. In his address, H.E Soaki expressed gratitude for the resilience and patience demonstrated by the citizens of both countries amid the challenging pandemic period. He acknowledged the sacrifices made to preserve public health and emphasized the commitment to regional cooperation and well-being.
The reopening of the maritime border is a notable advancement for both nations, emphasizing the strides taken in managing the COVID-19 pandemic. It symbolizes a return to more normalized cross-border activities, trade, and people-to-people exchanges.
As both nations enter this new phase, they pledge to continue collaborating to ensure the safety and health of their communities. The ongoing management of the pandemic, as well as other health challenges and cross-border issues, remains a shared priority, recognizing the significance of adaptability and mutual support in their recovery efforts.
The ceremony at Kangu Beach was also an opportunity to reaffirm the deep historical, cultural, and economic ties binding Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, and the Solomon Islands. It also presented a vision for a more robust, resilient future in which both nations can prosper.
The governments of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands express their heartfelt appreciation to all those who contributed to this significant achievement and look ahead to the future with optimism, hope, and renewed collaboration. The PNG Government was represented by the Chief Migration Officer of PNGICSA, Mr. Stanis Hulahau. The Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) was represented by Minister for Lands, Hon. Junior Tumare, and Minister for Police and Correctional Service, Hon. John Bosco Ragu. Other senior officials from ABG and the PNG government, along with church leaders and the people of South Bougainville, were also in attendance.