LANDOWNERS of the proposed multi-million-kina Madang Marine Park are accusing Commerce and Industry Minister Gabriel Kapris of favouring foreigners instead of Papua New Guineans in the awarding of contracts for the marine park development.
The landowners said they were prepared to block further development if Mr Kapris and the Commerce and Industry management failed to reconsider bids by landowner groups to clear the coconut plantation and build perimeter fencing of the site.
“Clearing coconuts and building perimeter fences are jobs that we, the landowners, can easily do and which require less capital and technology,” spokesmen Rudolp Aiyu and John Biliao of Kananam and Rempi villages said in a statement yesterday.
“These are jobs which should be reserved for landowners. These contracts are within our means and do not require foreign capital and savvy,” the statement said.
The village leaders said they believed Mr Kapris and the Commerce and Industry Department were responsible for the engagement of a Filipino company to clear the coconut trees and the erection of the perimeter fence.
They noted with disappointment that the site development contracts worth K12 million had gone to foreign companies ahead of the landowners.
They called on Mr Kapris to reconvene the tender committee and have the awards reconsidered and preference given to the landowner company.
“Failing this, the landowners will prevent men and machines of the Filipino company entering the site to start work on these projects,” the spokesmen said.
They said that while they appreciated the massive economic impact such a venture would bring for PNG and Madang, as landowners, they deserved recognition and business respect through their humble bid for participation in the project.
“It is simply our input into the project to create the working partnership and cohesion with the major developer, the national and provincial governments and other stakeholder.
“By rejecting our bid, the National Government would be seen as introducing another major risk into the project.
“Our bid for clearing coconut trees and fencing will enable us to participate fully in the project proper and the spin-offs that come with it,” they said.
Mr Kapris, who is due to fly out of the country today on an official engagement, was not available for comment over the weekend, although the landowners said they had expressed their dissatisfaction through his office in Port Moresby.