The National, Tuesday 30th April 2013
By JOHN PANGKATANA
HIDES Special Purpose Authority chairman Lemson Mapiria is urging the national government to appoint a high level team to examine long standing issues of landowners relating to the LNG project in Hela.
Mapiria said this in response to a statement by Governor Anderson Agiru last week giving the State and ExxonMobil 30 days to honour outstanding commitments.
He said he agreed in principle on some of the issues but felt that it was not called for at this stage of the project development to go to the extreme of taking legal action to halt work on the project.
“With the project (construction) winding down and in particular the pipeline near completion, it is a very critical time and going to the media does not help,” Mapiria said.
Mapiria further said the national government must take a strong stand on this by having in place a specific team of people to handle all outstanding issues.
“Otherwise you will continually have landowners coming to the media or fronting up at Waigani for their dues.”
“It’s total chaos on the ground. We must iron out these issues to ensue delivery of the project on time,” Mapiria said.
He mentioned the future of Tari Airport.
“The government must seriously consider it to be an international airport and for the National Airports Corporation to take charge of the facility,” he said.
“The airport is an important gateway towards promoting tourism which Hela has huge potential in.”
He also said it was important for leaders to work together with elected local level government presidents to move the project in a peaceful manner.
“We must all work together on this as there are issues that need to be treated carefully,” he said.
He said the LNG project must be seen to benefit the stakeholders and the rest of Papua New Guinea in the long run.
Mapiria is a chairman of an authority that works with the developer ExxonMobil on the ground.