Kauba blasted for calling landowners ‘criminals’

National, Normal

The National – Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A GROUP of landowners from Hides 1, 2 and 3 in PDL1, have condemned Highlands Assistant Commissioner of Police Simon Kauba for branding them “criminals” over a stand-off between |police and locals last weekend.
Spokesperson and Landowners Pressure Group (LPG) team leader Henry Duguno said the comment “is premature” and had not gone down well with them.
“Most landowners are frustrated about the comment made by Kauba,” he said.
“He should look closely into what transpired over the past few weeks leading into the death of the woman.”
Duguno said the vehicle was not stolen but kept for the owners to come and claim so that they could compensate the woman and her relatives and five other injured men for the death and injuries caused.
Another leader, Jacob Hawi said the stand off with the police and the subsequent blocking of road “is not only about the woman’s death but because of the build up of frustration over LNG-related matters”.
He said the long delay in paying MoU funds, business development grants (BDGs) and ministerial commitment funds had forced aggrieved landowners to take action.
“This is the beginning of more serious problems to come in all project areas,” he said.
Tazali Ola, another leader, said many issues remained outstanding and needed to be revisited by the government.
He said these included:
* Reviewing the social mapping and landowner identification process which he claimed resulted in many genuine landowners missing out; 
* Recognise small landowner companies and allow them to participate in spin-off businesses;
* Fast-track the payments of MoU funds, BDGs and ministerial commitments funds; and 
* Fast-track the resettlement of affected landowners to a new location with necessary amenities put in
Duguno said few instances of confrontation and protests had happened since the inception of the project but it “can cost the LNG project if corrective measures are not taken by the state to revisit the matter”.