Dept saves Govt K300mil in landowner bid: Wereh


WORKS Department Secretary David Wereh says the department has defended all claims in court and has saved the government from liabilities of more than over K300 million over the last two years.
Wereh, who is strongly against compensation claims, told The National that the department was taking a serious stand against compensations claims.
He said this following the Supreme Court unanimously dismissing an appeal by 3228 landowners living along the Chimbu section of the Highlands Highway corridor demanding K120 million in compensation payments in relation to the alleged removal of structures and planted improvements located within the 40m road corridor.
The landowners appealed after a National Court decision had earlier dismissed their claims for compensation against the Department of Works. The Supreme Court action came on Friday.
“The Supreme Court decision is a relief for the Department of Works because the department has been faced with numerous claims for compensation  related to or arising from the Highlands Highway rehabilitation programme implemented during 2006-7 mainly by landowners in the Simbu section of the highway,” Werah said.
“Most of these claims are currently pending in the court and the department hopes to utilise this high court decision to dismiss the pending claims.”
He said if the decision went against the Department of Works and the State and the matter was allowed to proceed to trial at the National Court and the decision made in favour of the landowners, the state could have paid the landowners more than K120 million inclusive of interest and costs for nine years of litigation of this claim.