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LNG road reopened

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By REBECCA KUKU
THE road to the multi-million kina PNG LNG project in Hela has been reopened following the beefing up of security by soldiers and police in the area troubled by tribal fighting.
Hela Governor Philip Undialu yesterday called on the police and ExxonMobil to review a memorandum of understanding which required that 30 police officers provide security at the PNG LNG project site.
Locals used an excavator on Tuesday night to dig up a huge hole in the middle of the road near the Tagali Bridge, making it impassable to traffic.
A similar hole was dug up at the approach to the Nogoli Bridge.
Hela police commander Michael Welly said the holes were dug up to keep rival factions apart for safety reasons.
The leaders of the factions yesterday agreed to fill the holes and open the road again after an assurance from police and the soldiers to patrol the area.
“So we filled the roads and the roads are now opened again. We have also stationed police officers at the Kobali camp and will conduct patrols from the Nagoli Bridge up to the Hiwanda Juction till the issue is resolved,” Welly said.
The road leads to the Hides condition plant and the base camp of the project operator, ExxonMobil.
Welly said a platoon of soldiers would also be stationed at the Kobali camp to assist the police restore law and order in the area.
“There will be a combined security presence in the area,” he said.
“We are hoping that we can get them to lay down their weapons and reach a peace agreement.”
Undialu said the 30 police officers were assigned to protect company assets only.
When the people living close by started fighting each other, he said the 30 policemen did not bother to stop the fight.
Undialu said police officers had a duty to protect the people and maintain law and order in communities.

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