Landowners, businesses make road claim

National

BusinessES and landowners along the corridors of the K265 million Kagamuga-Keltiga Road in Mt Hagen say they have not been consulted by Department of Works and Implementation and contractor China Harbour Engineering Corporation (CHEC).
Their concerns include “the blatant neglect by the DOW and CHEC to meet with them to address relevant issues and the manner in which the four-lane highway construction is undertaken”. Spokesman and former Foreign Affairs secretary and Ambassador to the European Union Gabriel Pepson, of the Jiga-Melakamp clan, said he was not given official notification relating to his customary land.
Pepson has called on Minister for Works and Implementation Michael Nali to move swiftly and direct officials from the DOW and CHEC to establish dialogue with the business and landowners.
Nali has warned that the department will not entertain compensation claims by people and businesses along major roads such as the 13.7km stretch of Kagamuga-Keltiga road.
He said work was starting on the Kagamuga-Keltiga Road and the K3 billion Highlands Highway rehabilitation will start next year.
Such compensation claims – amounting to K500 million – are common along the Highlands Highway and are now one of the biggest challenges to Government and road authorities.
“One of our major challenges, relating to the mindset of the people, is this compensation culture,” Nali said.
“Department of Works currently has claims of K500 million, even though we have taken a very firm stand to refer everything to the courts to determine the genuineness of these claims.
“You can see this by the number of developments and settlements along the road corridor.”

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