Govt urged to meet landowners’ demands

National, Normal

By Yehiura Hriehwazi

ATTACKS in Port Moresby last week on a tribal leader of the Juha gas project areas has sparked calls for the Government to fast-track programmes and return the village people back to their communities in Southern Highlands and Western provinces.
Benson Araka of the Pokaiya tribe on the border of Southern Highlands and Western provinces was hit with a rock on the right-side of his head last Friday near the 4-Mile bus station when he tried to help a young man being chased by a group of men armed with iron-rods and rocks.
He fell unconscious and was rushed to Port Moresby General Hospital but medical staff failed to attend to him and his relatives transferred him to the Saint John Gerehu Hospital where he is undergoing medical treatment.
His elder brother and chairman of the Kulini Strickland Resources Holders Association Inc, Andrew Makano said he was concerned that a lot of the landowners were living in Port Moresby and were getting sick, dying and were running up large bills while waiting for Government to act on establishing their integrated landowning groups (ILGs).
He said the attack on Mr Araka was a direct result of him and his people staying for prolonged periods in Port Moresby and waiting for the Government to deliver its promises to them.
He said another of his tribesman, Roy Alu, fell ill and died three weeks ago.
“My people and I raised funds up to K42,000 to get his body home.
“The Government is not concerned about the problems we are going through.
“We always get promises from the Government telling us that our demands will be met.
“However, those promises are just wastes because we are still waiting.
“We are living with wantoks and friends and we are using hire cars and borrowing money and our bills are going very high,” Mr Makano said.
He urged the Department of Petroleum and Energy to get its act together and attend to the plight of many of the landowners from Southern Highlands who are living in Port Moresby on the promise of being paid their seed monies to their ILGs.