Landowners eye tea estate

Lae News, Normal


THE Garaina Tea landowners are compiling documents to ask the Morobe provincial government to legally transfer the title of ownership of the tea estate, worth an estimated K3 million, to them.
The assets comprises of two 15-acre tea plantation, a factory with tea processing and packaging machines, tea plucking machine, communication equipment, workshop, vehicles and tractor, manager’s office and residence, guest house, two male and female apprentice dormitories and kitchen.
The assets and tea plantations were all covered by grass and shrubs with rats, snakes and bees nesting inside the buildings.
Landowners from Sopa, three Garaina and two Kasu villages have formed Maruwate landowner cooperative association and submitted their demand to the fifth Bulolo joint district planning and budget priorities committee meeting in Garaina last Tuesday.
With Waria council’s assistance, the meeting endorsed the submission of the documents.
It will be presented to the provincial executive council, the Sam Sewec, for deliberation.
The plantation was started in 1947 as a tea experimental plantation by the colonial administration.
After Independence, it was transferred to the Morobe provincial government.
Now the clans have the backing of the Waria council and are prepared to outsource the estate and engage overseas partners to manage the project, LLG president Morokoi Gaiwata said.
Mr Gaiwata said the LLG would formulate and sign a memorandum of agreement that would include equity participation.
Locals employed to clear the shrubs of the plantation in 2002, when a national team “was politically appointed” took over the management, complained about their unpaid wages.
They said the operation started and ceased within a month.
 “We are the victims of our own political doings … suffering for last 15 years,”  Mr Gaiwata claimed.