Landowners say commission hearing was waste of time, money

National, Normal

The National- Thursday, February 10, 2011

 LANDOWNER groups from Wafi-Golpu in Mumeng say that the special Land Titles Commission hearing in Lae was illegal and a waste of time and  money. 

The groups were devastated after they were issued with a copy of the National Gazette No G14 dated Thursday, Jan 20, 2011, where among others, the national executive council (NEC) through the Acting Governor General, Jeffrey Nape, revoked the appointments of the three special LTC commissioners. 

The appointment of special LTC commissioners, Robert Nonga Irung, Lawrence Benson Wada Titimur and Richard Amol Cherake, were revoked and the hearing ceased as of the date of the publication of the Gazette.

The decision by the NEC had overrode the previous decision it made and published in the National Gazette No. G190 of Nov 15, 2008.

The revocation now means that the special LTC commissioners and the hearing is suspended to await further advice from the government.

The government had earlier appointed the three incumbents as special LTC commissioners to conduct hearing to determine genuine landowners of the lucrative Wafi Golpu gold mining project.

More than 21 landowner groups had been presenting themselves at the special LTC hearing conducted at Bumbu  since 2009. 

The other three notice in the gazette were the appointment of members of the National Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection Authority, appointment of non-ex officio member of the Coffee Industry Corporation and revocation of acting appointments and appointment of departmental heads.

Unlike other groups, the Hengambu Landowners Association and Yanta Development Association, were against the hearing from the beginning. 

The two groups had stood by the decision of a Provincial Land Court of 1985 where legitimate landowners were already identified.

Appeals by other groups to the National and Supreme court were quashed in support of the provincial land court decision. 

They thanked the NEC and called on other groups to respect the decision and cooperate with the government and the developers, Morobe Mining Joint Ventures, to allow the project to go ahead. 

“We are all from Mumeng,  and we will all benefit one way or the other,” they said.