JULIA DAIA BORE
POLICE in the gas project areas of Southern Highlands and Hela will not hesitate to deal with landowners who want to cause trouble, acting Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) and Chief of Operations, Raphael Huafolo, said yesterday.
DCP Huafolo was speaking in response to violent protest in Tari by disgruntled landowners yesterday.
He appealed to the Hela people to sort out their grievances by using appropriate avenues instead of resorting to violence.
DCP Huafolo was in Hides to oversee the ongoing security operations when a delegation of top-ranking Government ministers, MPs and bureaucrats was pelted with stones by landowners who were purportedly unhappy with certain developments relating to the PNG LNG project licence-based benefits sharing agreement forums.
DCP Huafolo said the politicians were confronted by an angry mob but police in Tari intervened quickly and whisked the leaders away before they were picked up by two helicopters and shuttled to the Hides Gas project site in Nogoli.
He said more than 100 mobile squad members were deployed in the Hela region for the LNG forums and more than 250 others were deployed in nearby Kandep electorate in the Enga province for the by-election on Monday.
He said some rocks were hurled at a chartered helicopter but the aircraft did not sustain any damage because police intervened quickly to disperse the angry mob.
The police boss said the incident was to show that some people in the Hela region were misinformed about the developments happening in their province because of the lack of awareness and education.
DCP Huafolo said “the old adage ‘Information is power’ was true in every sense and responsible sectors involved in the LNG project should embark on a vigorous awareness and education programme to accurately inform the people about the benefit of the LNG project”.