By PATRICK TALU
ROAD construction work and extraction of gravel for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) at Portion 152, Papa, Central province, has been halted after an interim court order was granted to Iaro Gafa land group preventing any further works until a substantive hearing.
Plaintiff’s chairman Meiu Maraga delivered copies of the restraining order yesterday afternoon to the defendants, including LNG developer ExxonMobil.
Justice Nicholas Kirriwom last Friday ordered that the first defendants – Papa villagers Gau Ario, Samuel Ario, Pota Heni, Unage Ata, Ana Beari, Tete Goro and Unage Maraga – and second defendant ExxonMobil and their agents, or any groups or person related, should not carry out any work until the matter returns to the National Court on Thursday for a substantive hearing.
The other defendants are Petroleum and Energy secretary Rendle Rimua, Petroleum and Energy Department and the State.
Justice Kirriwom also ordered that all named parties take notice of the orders and take action by alternative dispute resolution in settling all outstanding landowner issues relating to the traditional land known as Danava, Dohu, Moa Darebo and Dohu Iaragam.
Mr Maraga told reporters that their fellow clan members from Papa have allegedly obstructed DPE officers from integrating them into ILG and participate.
“We are part of the Papa village near the buffer zone,” Mr Maraga said.
“We have been prevented from signing both the Kokopo umbrella benefits sharing agreement (UBSA) and licenced-based benefits sharing agreement (LBBSA) at Murray barracks in Port Moresby
“We are genuine landowners in which the pipeline and the LNG processing plant is proposed to be built.
“The first defendants are our relatives and we agreed at the first place to share the benefits 59% but once when they went to Kokopo and Murray barracks, they advised the developer and the DPE not to recognise us,” he said.
He said they had obtained the court order not to stop any development but simply for the State and the developer to recognise them genuine landowners “so that we can meaningfully participate in the benefit”.
Mr Maraga said so far, they had missed out on the K876,600 seed capital funding and said he wanted the Government and ExxonMobil to recognise and review the LBBSA to include them.
The successful order was sought through their counsel Gregory Emilio and Associates.
Attempts to get comments from DPE and ExxonMobil were unsuccessful.