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Friday, March 10, 2000

Highway blockage
requires quick action

Bullet The issue: A rock slide has forced closure of Kamehameha Highway at Waimea Bay.

Bullet Our view: Governor Cayetano has done the right thing by moving quickly to deal with the problem.

THE rock slide that forced closure of Kamehameha Highway at Waimea Bay has created a difficult situation for thousands of North Shore residents. Governor Cayetano has made the right decision to declare a state of emergency, which will allow the state to ignore customarily required permit procedures in acting to relieve the situation as soon as possible.

There is an urgent need to provide a temporary way around the blocked-off portion of the highway.

The state's plan is to build a road along a sandbar at the mouth of Waimea Stream for limited traffic -- not heavy vehicles such as buses and trucks. This would be a big help for frustrated motorists.

Pierced steel planking would be used for the temporary roadway. About one-third of the amount of planking needed has been located here; the rest may be imported from the mainland. There would also be a pedestrian walkway. The state is considered opening an old military road mauka of the cliff face, but decided it would not be safe.

The state's proposed long-term solution is to scale back the cliff adjoining the highway. In the interim, the state intends to remove an overhanging rock shelf that threatens the highway with more slides. Perhaps one lane of the existing highway could be opened after the rock shelf is removed.

There is still no definite word on when even the temporary road would be ready for use, but it can't come soon enough.

Meanwhile, residents of the North Shore and people who work in the area have to deal with considerable inconvenience. The highway is the only road available to them, and without it their lives are severely disrupted. Children who live on one side of the blocked highway and attend school on the other are among the victims.

Trips that could be accomplished in a matter of minutes now take hours because people must drive far out of their way through Windward and Central Oahu.

Some are coping by walking across the beach below the blocked off section of the highway, taking buses or cars at both ends.

None of the available options is acceptable for more than a few days. The disruption of lives is considerable and must be ended. Fortunately the state appreciates that and is moving quickly to deal with the problem.

Letting Bosnian
refugees go home

Bullet The issue: Croat and Serb leaders have agreed to a plan to end ethnic segregation in their area.

Bullet Our view: Reintegration is essential to bringing lasting peace to Bosnia.

THE clearest evidence of NATO success in Bosnia-Herzegovina would be ethnic reintegration of the strife-torn fledgling country. Senior Croatian and Bosnian Serb leaders have agreed on a policy that will allow tens of thousands of people who fled their homes in the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s to return home. The question is whether the homecoming will be peaceful.

The 1995 Dayton peace agreement brought an end to the 31/2-year war in Bosnia. The guns have since been kept silent only by the presence of U.S. and European troops keeping apart the three warring ethnic groups -- Muslims, Croats and Serbs.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Bosnian Serb Premier Milorad Dodik and Croatian Foreign Minister Tonino Picula now say it is time that all refugees began returning home. The declaration is to be submitted to both Balkan governments for approval within the next three months.

In the meantime 4,000 refugees will be allowed to return home as a sign of good will. The United States will provide a largely symbolic $2 million for reconstruction of 100 homes on each side of the border.

Approval of the declaration will allow many more to follow. About 30,000 Serb refugees from Croatia now live in the Serbian part of Bosnia while 70,000 Croat refugees from Bosnia are in Croatia. They have been kept there because of ethnic hatred and bureaucratic obstacles under previous governments that have stood in the way of reconciliation.

The agreement was made possible by changes of governments in Croatia and Bosnia's Serb Republic. Last March the hard-line president of the Serb Republic, Nikola Poplasen, was dismissed by the international community's chief official in Bosnia, Carlos Westendorp, for attempting to oust the pro-Western premier, Milorad Dodik.

In December Croatia's autocratic president, Franjo Tudjman, who had invaded Bosnia in an attempt to integrate the Croatian-majority portion into his country, died. In elections in January a coalition of opposition parties gained control of parliament.

Bosnia has appeared to be a quagmire in which Western military involvement would be required for many years to keep the peace. An end to ethnic segregation and homecoming for the refugees are essential steps toward restoring normalcy and eliminating the need for the presence of NATO forces.

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John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

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Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor

Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors

A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

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