Landowners want highway payment expedited

National, Normal

THE Simbu landowners along the Highlands Highway are urging the State to expedite payments for highway rehabilitation.
 They said they are want payment as early as next month.
A representative and clan leader of the Project 9 along the Simbu province, Ali Umba, said the villagers of projects 9 to 11, from Mangiro to the Waghi Bridge, were very happy that Chief Secretary Manasupe Zurenuoc announced that payments would be made in June or July.
Mr Umba said many villagers had died while waiting for  the payments and did not want to wait another day longer.
“The assessment, valuation and verification of the highway has already been completed by the Works Department.
“So, what is delaying the payment?”
He said landowners had not allowed any maintenance or other rehabilitation work to be carried out on the highway because of this.
‘If the Government wants to get the LNG project off the ground, they will need to drive up along the highway to get to the bottom of the issues.
“But how will they do that if the roads are not fixed and we refuse to have them fixed?
“This is why, though we appreciate the commitment, we would like to see the money in April,” Mr Umba said.