WHILE it is pleasing to note the project’s environmental permit has been granted to the project developers for the Wafi-Golpu mine, land boundaries in the two exploration license boundaries between the three landowner groups have yet to be clearly demarcated.
While stakeholders were awaiting this moment to come to pass, there has been a proliferation of formation of incorporated land groups (ILGs) by individual groups from the three impacted villages of Yanta, Babuaf, and Hengabu.
Why incorporate more than what is required?
Are the authorities in the province properly advicing the leaders of the three impacted villages on the requirements for the ILG registration?
Just about a week ago, there were three ILG groups by splinter groups from Babuaf village who advertised in the newspapers for their intentions to register their ILGs.
What is urgently needed at this stage is for the provincial authorities to begin undertaking consultative discussions with the three villages as to how they will address and respond to their benefits sharing components during the development forum, given the outstanding land ownership and boundary issues.
Ordinary villagers will mistakenly believe that upon being given an ILG certificate, their parcel of land has now been registered as well.
Sadly, this is not the case at all, as registration of land involves a complete different set of processes and procedures.
Any attempts by the recorded ILGs within these three impacted village to have their claims of land within the exploration licenced area surveyed and registered under their ILGs shall be advised against as it may be counterproductive thus jeopardising the project’s anticipated commencement of development programmes.
It is incumbent upon the provincial authorities (Morobe administration and government) to start visiting the three villages to discuss their claims of benefits sharing.
The benefit-sharing components are the amounts in percentages that each of villages will receive.
But this cannot be practically implemented yet due reasons as highlighted above (no boundary demarcation).
One can guess what the conclusion to the whole situation may be; which is for the villages of Yanta, Babuaf and Hengabu to agree to receive a third each of the total landowners’ benefits.
I hope my preaching gets the listener converted.
Hospital Hill, Lae