Bougainville MP: Plantations sold without locals knowing

Islands, Normal

The National, Tuesday, May 3, 2011

MORE than eight rundown cocoa and coconut plantations in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville have been secretly sold to foreign companies.
However the traditional landowners of those plantations want the land to be given back to them.
Member for Central Bougainville Jimmy Miringtoro, who is behind the move, told reporters during a press conference that more than 30,000ha of land had been transferred privately to Australian owners without the knowledge of the landowners.
The plantations were first established by Germans in 1910 and were some of the biggest cocoa and copra plantation.
They were abandoned at the height of the Bougainville crisis.
He said the Numanuma, Arigua and Tomanapu plantations in his Central Bougainville had their titles transferred to new owners without consulting the traditional landowners.
He said they were now calling on the owners to tell the people how the transactions took place.
He said his people wanted the land back to use because the population of the locals had increased tremendously over the years.
“The people want their land back because they want to take full control and ownership of the plantation as the 99-year leases expired a long time ago and they have the right to take the plantation lands back,” he said.
Miringtoro he said the people of Central Bougainville wanted to use the legal and modern ways to take their land back and had engaged Joseph Nanei, of JB Nanei and companies, to see if there were any legal options for them to get their land back.
He said the land sold were acquired by force.
He said once the land was transferred back to them, they could mobilise themselves to form cooperatives and seek government help to revive the rundown plantations.
The land transfer move has received support from the Autonomous Bougainville Government and members of parliament from the region.