THE forced shutdown of Wafi-Golpu gold mine last Friday is a direct result of lack of consultation and transparency in the project negotiation process.
This is highlighted by disgruntled landowners and the blame should lay squarely on Bulolo MP Sam Basil and Governor Ginson Saonu.
The good Member for Bulolo decided from the start to engage only with a select few that he recognised as legitimate landowner representatives.
He and reckons that him and they alone can do the deal with the developer and the State.
This was evident when this exclusive group of people, along with the MP, jetted off to Kokopo to hold further talks with Mineral Resources Authority and the developer a few weeks after the Lae forum.
That meeting was supposed to be a quiet one, free of noise and disturbance from people who should not be asking too much questions on the mine’s likely environmental damages, long-term benefits to landowners and the developer’s commitment to the wellbeing of the impacted communities. Given the developer’s handling of Hidden Valley mine project, plus other issues of concern, every citizen of this country has the right to raise this in a proper forum.
The good MP further decided to put himself in the place of Morobe provincial government and the four LLGs – Mumeng, Wampar, Ahi and Lae – to sign off on the MOU on their behalf.
Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu also must be blamed for failing to mobilise impacted landowners and communities of Wafi mine in preparation for all project development phases.
Saying sorry to the three landowners last week was at a very late stage and showed neglect of his responsibility.
The provincial government’s preparation for project participation is a joke.
It confirms that Saonu is not genuine and or someone else was doing the wheeling and dealing for him while he took a nap in the back seat until it backfired.
Having missed out on the MOU signing certainly turned up some heat at Tutumang Haus.
As it followed, all provincial assembly MPs called for total withdrawal of the MOU within a seven-day deadline.
That period has since lapsed.
Saonu decides to go on an awareness trip to Wafi to present his MPG’s position on the MoU.
He even gestured to the LOs that any move to shut down the mine will have MPG’s backing.
Two days later, the mine was forcefully shut down and employees of Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture told to go away and not to return.
Both MPs – Basil and Saonu – have mishandled Wafi project from day one.
They must be held accountable for their actions should the project be stalled as a result of the forced shutdown.