By SHEILA LASIBORI
CUSTOMS records have indicated that all PNG liquefied natural gas (LNG) project materials and equipment have been cleared and released.
The reported delay on the materials’ release could have taken place somewhere, Customs Commissioner Gary Juffa said.
He said yesterday his officers had advised him that their records showed all equipment for the LNG project had been cleared, including those for the trade training facility being built at the Port Moresby Technical College (POMTech) at Idubada.
“POMTech (LNG) imports were cleared by Customs on Dec 24 after the Government and Exxon reached an agreement with regards to goods deemed exempt and those that were not legally exempt from the payment of duties to the State.
“As for the delays, Customs is not the only agent along the supply chain and there are other stakeholders.
“In this instance, it is the understanding of Customs that the delays were caused by cartage arrangements which are not the responsibility of Customs.
“Customs during this period of time is very busy processing cargo for other members of industry and has a responsibility to ensure that community and State interests are protected as it discharges its duties to secure the borders, protect the community and facilitate trade while collecting revenue,” Mr Juffa said.
“We cleared this cargo already … we also have responsibility to check and clear all other goods (belonging to other clients).
“Customs’ role is also to serve the country … we are here to support the Government to see that the project gets off the ground,” Mr Juffa said of the PNG LNG project.
Meanwhile, construction work at the POMTech trade training facility is continuing and ExxonMobil representatives on site are confident it would be completed in February, a month ahead of scheduled March.
ExxonMobil staff on anonymity said since work started there last Sept 28, a lot of repairs of existing facility such as water pipes had been done, apart from the construction of two new staff houses after the two existing units were relocated.
As for the training facility, contractors were working to get the foundation levels right before the buildings for classrooms, dormitories, the new mass and other trade training buildings could be constructed.
“We expect the buildings to go up much faster than the other facilities,” he said.
The source told The National the contractors and staff were now approaching 100 days of no injuries as workers observed ExxonMobil safety records.
The POMTech facility is part of an estimated US$50 million to US$60 million (about (K134 million to K161 million) Juni (Southern Highlands) facility meant to train PNG locals for jobs in the LNG project.
The civil work at POMTech is being carried out by EOS Joint Venture for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC); KG Construction and its subcontractors; Red Sea contractor, Digara Construction and local contractors which are providing food and water plus other necessary services to the construction site and its staff.