Bird: Safety priority

Business

EAST Sepik Governor Allan Bird, pictured, says the Frieda River project cannot be mined if safety cannot be guaranteed.
Bird posted on his Facebook page last week that while he appreciated the revenue generation and the proposed business model for the mine, the bottom line was the safety of the Sepik River.
“My position has been consistent from day one,” he said.
“If the safety of the river cannot be guaranteed, then we can’t mine until there is technology available that can do this safely.”
Bird said the Sepik River was not just a supplier of fish, turtles, prawns, eels and crocodiles but a spiritual icon for his people.
“My people also came from the river,” he said.
“We can substitute the animals from the river with other proteins but the Sepik is one of the last unspoilt rivers in the world.
“There is no substitute for the Sepik River.”
Bird said previous governments had pursued economic growth at the expense of the environment.
“We can’t afford to do the same. We have to exercise great responsibility,” he said.
“We live in a world of climate change and massive environmental degradation.
“We would be stupid to go down the same road and knowingly destroy our environment in exchange for money.”
Bird said he had directed the special advisory team to work on the environmental impact statement to provide independent advice to the provincial government. “I have waited patiently for the mining desk to do this through the office of the administrator and I have been following up diligently,” he said.
“Unfortunately, this has not eventuated.”
Bird said he discovered that the province’s mining desk may had compromised their position by certain actions they had taken without informing the provincial administrator and the independence of the mining desk had now been brought into question.
“This won’t do. This issue is critical but it seems certain public servants do not appear to place the same level of urgency or exercise wisdom and good judgment on matters that are of serious public importance,” he said.
“Given the lack of response to our queries from Conservation, Environment and Protection Authority (Cepa), I am not confident that Cepa has the capacity or the capability to properly and professionally review the environmental impact statement (EIS).
“The responsibility for the safety of the Sepik River rests with the East Sepik government and the Sepik people.
“It is our responsibility and we take that responsibility very seriously.”
Bird said he had asked the provincial administrator to convene the advisory team to fully review the EIS.
“At the end of this process we will give a response to all parties based on our assessment of the EIS,” he said.
“I will be personally taking charge of the team.”

5 comments

  • The River is a Lifeline for the Sepik Region and should Not be used as a Channel for slurry pipe line or discharge of effluents. It is absurd and the CEPA Does Not have the Rationale along with the Public Service Machinery in ESP to Vet the EIS.
    Its as Simple Please place a Moratorium on the is Project for the Next 100 years.
    Develop our Agriculture , Fishery and Forest Rather than this Mining Industry.
    I have Seen Worst and Been a Regulator too myself. First National Mines Inspector

  • Praise God, Thank You Jesus
    Thank you my Governor. That is the True Shepherd taking Right action to put people’s lives first before profit and misuse of the Mighty Sepik River.
    Good work my Governor. You are doing fine.
    I will continue to pray for you as I know Sepik is filled with so called “kaikai man”who think only of today and not tomorrow generation.

  • We need leaders like Bird with vision, the triple bottom line approach or the 3 ps, people, planet and profit. You are there absolutely correct, leader.

  • Tape into Agriculture rather than the mining. East and West Sepik and the rest of the Momase Regions have the blessed Environment for Agriculture. With Agriculture, everyone will benefit and prosper but with the Mining only few people like the landowners, Government and the Developer will benefit and the bulk of the people will suffer through the pollution of the Sepik River. Learn your lessons from Fly River which was polluted by Ok Tedi Mine which is still affecting the people now and the Generations to come.

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