Hides college halted

National, Normal

WORK at Hides, where the Juni Technical College is going to be built, has stopped.
Wita Arua Holdings, the company undertaking the work, has stopped to protest a number of issues.
The work that has stopped is the initial landscaping of the area, before actual construction can begin.
Wita Arua is a landowner company undertaking sub-contract work there.
Its employees are villagers from the area.
Company chairman Hare Hengi said they had stopped work for about a month for two reasons.
The first is that the Government has to date failed to release K6 million in seed funding promised to them.
Mr Hengi said they wrote to Treasurer Patrick Pruaitch about this in January, and he had promised to facilitate the release of the funds.
He said this did not happen, thus forcing them to hire machines and vehicles, at high cost.
“We would like to use the seed capital to buy our own machines,” Mr Hengi said.
Secondly, the company has not been paid money it has invoiced for the work done to date.
Hengi said they submitted a claim for K180,000 and the response they got from the contractor was “no money”.
The contractor is believed to be Hides Group Development Company (HGDC).
He said 30 workers had been stood down because they were unhappy with the fixed cost per man per day.
“What we get is tinned meat, two packets of biscuits and cordial. We were not expecting anything like this,”Mr Hengi said.
HGDC officials could not be reached for comments.
The Juni Technical College is one of two colleges ExxonMobil plans to build to train local manpower for the PNG LNG project.