Ban on land hearing lifted

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday 21st August, 2012

THE suspension of a Special Lands Title hearing for Coastal Pipeline landowners in Madang was lifted yesterday after the landowners apologised to the commissioners and staff.
The suspension related to the spilling of  kambang (lime) around the court house, allegedly by the Coastal Pipeline landowners earlier this month.Provincial administrator Bernard Lange wrote to commission chairman George Minjihau and authorised the suspension.He demanded a formal apology from the landowners and the removal of the lime from around the court house.Madang provincial mines director John Bibi facilitated the meeting and said the commission was a guest in the province to help landowners and deserved respect and cooperation.Coastal pipeline landowner chairman Sauye Parara, Astrolabe Bay LLG deputy council president Polon Seng and leaders from disputing clans met with the commissioners on yestardat.
Parara apologised on their behalf to the three commissioners Minjihau, Benedict Batata, Kutt Paonga and their staff. The hearing was delayed for a week until the apology, which paved the way for the inquiry to resume at yestarday.Lange condemned the act and said disgruntled landowners could not continue to intimidate, threaten and abuse government agents and staff.“As a government institution set up to assist people, we need to respect such an institution and its endeavours to assist,” he said. “The commission was here for the benefit of the landowners, state and investors.” Accepting the apology, Minjihau said the commission was a ‘neutral’ body tasked by the National Executive Council to investigate and determine the legitimate landowners for the portion of land on which the slurry pipeline passed through.“As this is one of the major impact projects, the SLTC needs landowner’s cooperation and support to speed up the hearing in the limited time allowed by the government. Your actions will affect yourselves,” Minjihau said.“We took the issue seriously as we were not sure whether the act was done to harm the commission and staff or meant for their rival disputing clans.”
 The issue was registered with the police as a criminal case and 14 suspects listed.
Minjihau brushed aside a claim by inland pipeline landowners from SML 8 that the hearing had been completed.He said that was false and misleading the people.
“There were 80 coastal pipeline cases and 40 were completed, while 40 are pending. Inland pipeline has eight cases that were completed. All decisions will be handed down after the completion of coastal pipeline disputes,” Minjihau said.