By DORISH KAMBA
FORMER Southern Highlands province premier Albert Mokai says law and order problems in LNG project areas have escalated with people taking the law into their own hands.
Mr Mokai, a signatory landowner to Hides licence-based benefits sharing agreement (LBBSA), said law and order problems in the Hides area were threatening the operations of the LNG project.
The Government must take quick action to resolve or at least stabilise the problem by increasing police presence in the trouble zones to put a stop to lawlessness.
“There is an immediate concern for security and welfare of the people in the Hides area because there are no clan leaders to handle the law and order cases,” he said.
It was reported that the leaders of the clans at the project areas had been in the nation’s capital since the signing of the LBBSA last Dec 8.
“After the signing, the State team took them here and they had never returned to look after the welfare of their people,” Mr Mokai said.
“Since the signing of the LBBSA, the Government has not undertaken any step to meet the people on how they can work together.
“The Government has frustrated the local landowners by getting signatories but never returned to meet with the people,” Mr Mokai said.
The people of Hides area have requested Southern Highlands Governor Pr Isaac Joseph to address the law and order issues quickly and to work with his people.
He also called on Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare to allow Petroleum Minister William Duma to complete his job.
“Mr Duma started the project and the people want him to finish it. There is better understanding and good dialogue between the landowners and the minister and they want him to take leadership of this project, especially during times of lawlessness.
“We want continuity and consistency in the project, not breakdowns now and then due to law and order issues.
“We appeal to the Government to honour its commitment to its people,” he said.
Mr Mokai said if the Government continued to neglect the project’s agreed responsibilities, the consequences could be:
* Company pullout;
* End of project;
* Liabilities to the State would be very high; and
* State liable to pay damage to stakeholders, suppliers, contractors etc.