The National- Monday, January 24, 2011
By JEFFREY ELAPA
SOUTHERN Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru has been called to sort out the LNG landowner issues rather than distancing himself in Port Moresby.
Mendi leader Joseph Kobol made the call after witnessing many disgruntled landowners gathering around the Waigani offices last week, waiting for a response from the departments of Commerce and Industry and Finance regarding the payments of their business developments grants and MoA funds.
He said the recent closure of the Hides 4 condensation plants was also a direct result of the failure by the provincial government and the national government to address the issues.
Kopol said the LNG project would experience more problems and Agiru should take the lead by pushing for immediate social mapping and land demarcation exercises.
He said that many people had missed out and were frustrated and that was not healthy for the operation as this could lead to more stop work and possible closure of the project.
Kobol said many “paper landowners” had emerged and that was becoming a pressing issue and the government should carry out the exercise immediately.
He said during the signing of the agreement, all government leaders, including coalition partners and SHP leaders headed by Agiru, were active and keen to fast-track the process.
“Agiru was so vocal with the few landowners to bulldoze the agreement signing. The government promised in guaranteeing all payments to be made on time and everything was under control,” he said. “However that had not materialised, leaving many genuine landowners out.
“Agiru must now install leadership in ironing out the outstanding land matters and visit the landowners at the project sites,” he said.
Meanwhile, a community leader from Koroba, David Tarali, had also appealed to the Lands and Petroleum and Energy departments to engage an independent group to carry out the social mapping and land demarcations.
He said they must engage honest and committed officers in the exercise.
“Several landowners were going around with lists of landowners who should work with the government officers and which land should be included and that was a bad trend as it could create more problems,” Tarali said.