Kokoda landowners close track

Normal, Papua


LANDOWNERS along Kokoda have closed down the world famous Kokoda track to tourists because of the lack of developments in the area, halting all its economic activities.
Thirteen villages from the Owers’ Corner in Central province to Kovelo village in the Kokoda area of Oro province, met and agreed on closing the track until further action was taken by the Government to attend to their grievances.
Spokesman Barney Jack told The National while other villages had benefited from an Australian-PNG agreement to promote development along the track, the landowners on Mount Kodu in particular had been left high and dry.
“There will be no compromise until this issue is addressed with the landowners,” he said.
Mount Kodu was the site of a failed attempt to establish a copper mine a few years ago by the Government and a special package was promised for the people but nothing materialised.
“We are meeting the Deputy Prime Minister on Wednesday and we want an MoA to be signed so that development can take off.
“Only AusAID’s health division has helped out in the area by moving about in the villages through their mobile medical team to give out medicine.
“Apart from that, the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) has also helped with a K300 million distribution to various villages for projects, including the maintenance of the roads and the track,” Mr Jack said.
KTA marketing communication manager Newman Cuthbert said there were no tourists on the track and the trekking season did not start until April.
“We are aware of the on going issue but the authority has not been notified of the closure and it is seeking more information,” he said.