Landowners branded as criminals

National, Normal
Source:

The National – Thursday, June 23, 2011

LANDOWNERS, who blocked the road over the weekend at Tari, Hides and Komo, in Southern Highlands’ Hela region, have been described as criminals.
Highlands divisional police commander Simon Kauba issued a stern warning yesterday that police would not tolerate such activities in liquefied natural gas (LNG) project sites.
Kauba said it was very funny for the landowners to blame police for their illegal activities.
He said the locals used a backhoe to dig deep trenches on the road between Nongoli camp, Hides 4, Komo Airport and Hides 1.
He said the problem started when Tari police and mobile squads en­gaged in the LNG pro­jects went to retrieve a hire vehicle stolen by the relatives of a deceased woman.
He said it was a fatal accident and police later arrested the driver in Nongoli.
Kauba said the police took the vehicle back after the owner lodged a complaint with Mendi and Tari police.
He said police had ta­ken the vehicle back and handed it over to the ow­ner without causing any problem with locals.
“I can’t understand why the people go ahead and block the roads and remove the bridges and later blame policemen for their actions,” Kauba said.
“These people are criminals who have taken the law into their own hands,” he said.
He said the accident had nothing to do with the developer, sub-contractors of the LNG project or any other parties.
Kauba said this clearly showed the level of education and understanding people had and urged their leaders to educate people about the rapid changes taking place in their area and how to respect companies and others working there.
He said the LNG pro­ject would benefit the landowners and the people of Hela in a big way than any other people and they must take pride in the developments now taking place.
Kauba appealed to the leaders in the region to work closely with the police to maintain order and allow the work to progress smoothly.
He said it did not help when locals unnecessarily stopped work at project sites.
He said if landowners had genuine grievances they must take it up with the proper authorities instead of taking the law into their hands.