By JUNIOR UKAHA
Kainantu landowners who blocked the Highlands Highway last week and demanded K85 million from the Government have apologised for their actions.
Anku Aintenu landowners from Agarabi local level government, representing seven major villages along a 4.5km stretch of the highway from Bane to 4-Mile Bridge, apologised to the Government, businesshouses and members of the public for their actions and any inconveniences caused.
The landowners on Oct 2 blocked the highway and demanded K85 million from the State for use of their customary land.
Their actions did not go down well with the Government, which ordered police to remove the roadblock on Oct 3.
Police allegedly shot and injured two men and burnt down several houses while removing the roadblock. “On behalf of the Anku Aintenu landowners of Kainantu, I wish to sincerely apologise to the State and the public, especially the daily users of the highway, for the inconveniences we’ve caused by blocking the national highway,” chairman Aaron Afantai said.
“We greatly regret that our actions have backfired on us, resulting in police shooting at our people and seriously wounding two youths, who are now fighting for their lives at Goroka Base Hospital.
“Several houses with properties at Bane village were burnt to ashes and women and children fled for safety in fear of their lives.
“This is something we will look into later.
“We have blocked the highway out of frustration, because for the last eight years, we have been in and out of every concerned government office trying to claim compensation for our land but it has fallen on deaf years.
“The fact remains that the 4.5km stretch of road between Bane and 4-Mile bridges is still traditional land because there was no proof of payment by the State.
“During the time when the colonial administration was supposed to do payment, there was an internal feud among our forefathers over the landownership, and the kiaps (patrol officers) left and never returned.”
By JUNIOR UKAHA