Developer failed to resettle Hides landowners, says bishop

National, Normal

The National, Friday 27th January 2012

A CHURCH leader has accused developer Exxon Mobil and the government for failing to resettle landowners resulting in the loss of lives at the project site.
Rev Wai Tega is the chairman of the Hela council of churches and Bishop of the United Church in Hela. He said the landslide which buried scores of people on Tuesday morning was man-made disaster – not a natural disaster as many had claimed.
He said Hela had a relationship with nature and ExxonMobil, the developer of the multi-billion kina PNG LNG gas project, had totally destroyed the environment which was not right in the eyes of the landowners.
The developer and the state should be held responsible for the deaths because many issues regarding the project had not been solved.
If the landowners had been relocated, lives and properties would not have been lost.
Tega said the Lai Tepo-Hides gas was a spiritual fire foretold by their prophets but the government and ExxonMobil did not show any respect for the customary faith the people had.
He forecast it was a first warning of what would come later.
The churches are calling on the government and Exxon Mobil to treat people with respect.