Homes razed for ‘development’

National, Normal

The National – Monday, December 20, 2010

GOILALA MP Mathew Poia has called on authorities to monitor the impact of the LNG project on ordinary people living in the NCD and Central.
He said last Thursday after receiving complaints from Goilala people who had been long time settlers around Laloki River and 9-Mile quarry near the Hiritano Highway.
Poia said his people were being forced to vacate their houses and the land that they developed over 40 years.
“I am calling on the Lands Department and other appropriate authorities to ensure that proper procedures are followed by newcomers who are literally bulldozing many settlers who had lived and developed land in these areas,” he said.
He said that a lot of under-the-table deals were taking place in offices and new developers were coming in and doing things with no regard for the people who had been living in and improving these areas for years.
“The Goilala people living along 9-Mile quarry and Laloki River are the original settlers and if they have to be forced out, then they must be informed in advance and compensated for the improvements they have made on the land,” Poia said.
He said that while oil and gas developments as in the LNG project were welcomed, the small people should not be ill treated in the name of development.
Early last week, a bulldozer and a work gang, accompanied by police, moved on to a roadside area occupied by seven Goilala families and destroyed their homes, gardens and trees.
Police told Poia, who visited the families last Thursday morning, that they were acting on a court order to evict the settlers. And that order was taken out by a company Maku Ltd claiming the land described as portion 2659Ctj.
Poia said, after checks with the Lands  and Physical Planning Department later that day, he decided he would appeal against the National Lands Board decision to grant the lease to Maku Ltd seven months ago.