Leader eyes talk with firm

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Theonila Roka Matbob

PEOPLE in Central Bougainville’s Ioro constituency plan to discuss the massive damage to the environment caused by the Panguna mine with the operator Rio Tinto, says member-elect Theonila Roka Matbob.
“The waste is continuing to affect the lives of the people, forcing them to move (away), displacing people from their rightful land,” she said.
“We want Rio Tinto to take up the responsibility (for the waste) and meet with us for a roundtable talk.”
It is one of her priorities as she starts working on her plan to develop Ioro and deal with the effects of the abandoned mine.
She said although the mine was closed 30 years ago, people continued to suffer because of the destruction to their land and the “billion tonnes of waste”.
“Panguna will be addressed as a legacy issue.
“The Autonomous Bougainville Government has for many years been focusing (only) on redevelopment,” she said.
“For me redevelopment will only add problems to the compounded issues already on the ground.
“It continues to divide the people within.
“How are we going to address it?
“We started the process in 2013.
“So right now, we are trying to look for ways to put pressure on Rio Tinto to take up its social responsibility.
Meanwhile, her five-year-development plan for Ioro will focus on good governance, service delivery and the Panguna mine.
“Number one is the reestablishment of governance in support of the ratification process because following the spirit of the Bougainville revolution, good governance is actually the foundation of the old revolution process,” she said.
“Service delivery will be focussed on education, health and basic services any community relies on.
“It includes a complete change to the education curriculum.
“I want to make Ioro a model for nation building on Bougainville.”


  • Matbob should see this from Rio Tinto’s viewpoint. The company placed millions of kina into the hands of politicians and administrators to ensure they turned a blind eye to environmental aspects of the mine. But still, 40 or so years on, the Bougainvilleans are still moaning about a little bit of poisoning, destruction and pollution They should accept their lot and rejoice in the success of Somare and his cohorts, who used that money wisely to enhance their lifestyles.

  • Make Rio to take responsibility. We are with you and watching your leadership going forward for your people. Our forefathers were not literate, they conned and lied. This time around won’t be the same. We will negotiate on our terms and conditions. Matbob you will lead.

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