Pomio project defended

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THREE landowner groups in Pomio have come out in defence of the Sigite Mukus Integrated Rural Development Project which they said has brought tangible development to the people.
The chairmen of Pomata Investment Ltd, Ralopal Investment Ltd and Nakiura Investment Ltd said that after 40 years of neglect, they were finally seeing positive changes.
They said 32 villages were now linked by road, a sea port was operational at Drina, there were two airports to serve the area, and more than 4000 people were employed by the developer of the oil palm plantation.
These and other developments were improving the lives of the people, the chairmen told The National after a press conference in Port Moresby yesterday.
The landowners’ umbrella company, Memalo Holdings Ltd, had called the press conference in response to claims that landowners had caused the deportation of Catholic missionary Douglas Tennent on Monday.
They said they did not know who might have lodged a complaint with the authorities.
“The landowners amongst ourselves, we have some disputes regarding the project but we are not aware of who actually raised the complaint to the minister for immigration and the chief migration officer to deport missionary Tennent,” Pagot said.
“We are surprised when seeing through the media regarding his deportation on Wednesday this week.”
In a statement signed by Mathew Lila, chairman of Naikura, James Lutkal (Pomata) and Bruno Tevolmana (Ralopal) and released at the press conference, the landowners said the sub-lease agreements with the developer were due for review only in 2020 and this was conveyed to Tennent and the Archbishop of Rabaul, Franciso Panfilo, in May last year.
They said the archbishop and Tennent appeared to be unhappy with this and continued to “propagate divisions among the landowners and landowner company directors”.
They believe that the duo instructed a legal firm to commence court proceedings against the developer, Gilford Ltd, in November last year, naming “Pomio landowners” as plaintiffs.
The statement said: “The key intention of the proceeding was not to seek a declaration for the review of the agreements but for a declaration that the lease and sub-lease agreements entered into on 29 November 2010 are unconscionable, null and void.
“This clearly shows that Archbishop Panfilo and Tennet are not advocating for the landowners but they are out to permanently stop their desires and aspirations for development.”
The landowners accused the archbishop and Tennent of deceit and abusing their rights as missionaries and supported the deportation order.