The National, Thursday October 24th, 2013
By BENNY GETENG
NORTHERN Governor Gary Juffa is supporting the claims of landowners and president of the Kokoda local level government that the Kokoda Initiative, agreed to by the national and Australian governments, is not benefiting the people of Kokoda or the province.
He said “they would like to close the Kokoda Trail and focus on other forms of economic development such as mining or agriculture”.
Landowners and LLG president Jackson Iriro approached Juffa and expressed concern that their efforts to develop a business initiative to collect fees from tour operators and trekkers had been hijacked by people who did not appreciate Kokoda and its history.
“The landowners and the LLG have demanded that the so-called initiative be reviewed and benefits revert to the LLG in some way so that they may build their town and maintain the world-famous trail and provide an opportunity for locals to benefit from the multi-million kina industry,” Juffa said.
“Between A$5,000 (K12,300) and A$7,000 (K17,600) is paid by trekkers to walk the world-famous trail but apart from a tiny amount paid to porters, nothing trickles down to the people of Kokoda as all revenues are captured in Australia and the fees paid to the Kokoda Track Authority simply are not justifiable for the trail to be kept open.
“Local level government and landowners are keen to consider other options such as agricultural projects and mining.”