By HELEN TARAWA
THE New Ireland government is spending money to bring much-needed services to its people, Governor Sir Julius Chan says.
Chan told The National that the Trans Islands Road was being built to connect the people of Lavongai area.
He refuted claims by landowners that the road was being built through traditional land without proper processes carried out.
Chan said the PNG Forest Authority (PNGFA) had given the company timber licence and the provincial government was just reinforcing it.
“PNGFA gave them the company logging licence so while they are in the province, we want to get something out of the company that is beneficial for the people,” he said.
Spokeman John Aini said the road was bulldozed without proper processes and negotiations with the landowners.
The road covers 25 per cent of the land on Lavongai Island and the government decided to proceed without much awareness.
Aini claimed that there was logging still going on in the area although the government had abolished it.
“The developments that are currently happening in Lavongai were giving us nightmares because the construction company just walked in and told the people to tally their betel nut and sago palms before bulldozing through the whole area,” he said.
“The trans-highway being built to connect North and South Lavongai is against the will of the people because it is on traditional land.
“In April this year, the landowners protested against the government and closed all the roads, demanding that proper bridges be built.
“Government had broken customary tambu land. It’s not a trans-highway because we see two more roads being built.
“They are harvesting logs in Central New Hanover, Tabut and Umbukul although logging is illegal in that area. We want to get a preventative order because the government had the guts to walk through the customary tambu land belittling our people and without proper consultation and awareness.
“We are not against development but the proper processes must be followed for the good of future generations.
“We have not seen the money for the province, no tangible benefits for the people but there is exploitation going on and that’s our concern.”
By HELEN TARAWA