Awesa warns landowners

Main Stories, National

The National, Wednesday 8th May 2013

 THE government will be forced to implement the national infrastructure law if owners of the land that has slipped and cut off roads in Chimbu continue to make demands.

Minister for Works and Implementation Francis Awesa sounded the warning at a press conference in Port Moresby yesterday.

He said the road was the only link for the majority of people involved in  economic activities in the Highlands region and that affected three million people.

The Department of Works was ready to restore the highway but compensation demand by the landowners for plants and cash crop destroyed in the landslip was hindering progress, he said.

But nothing was going to stop the government from introducing the law to arrest individuals and groups  trying to sabotage development under the new law passed by parliament last year, Awesa said.

“This is going to be the first time we will introduce the law if people continue to hinder development and work on the landslip road.

“Works is ready to restore the highway but the landowners are putting more pressure and that is beyond our control.

“We need the support of the police and we are already in talks with the police commissioner to dispatch a unit of mobile squad to the area to arrest people if possible, as noone can hold the country to ransom,” he said.

Awesa said works engineers from Kundiawa were denied access to assess the 400m deep  and 12m wide landslip between Waigar and Kaukau market in Kerowaghi, Chimbu, after continuous heavy rain in the area.

He said that landowners were trying to cash in on the landslip and  demanding money before allowing restoration work to begin.

Awesa said much of the improvement along the highway had been  paid for by the state but could not say if claims being made now were  for more improvement work done.  

He said the Works Department could consider other options such as upgrading and building the existing 3km bypass as the alternative route, cutting off the current location if people continued to demand compensation.