The National, Friday 24th August 2012
By JAYNE SAFIHAO
MADANG Special Lands Titles Commission chairman for the Ramu nickel project George Minjihau has admitted a further 40 cases have yet to be heard, delaying all impact site visits.
In a statement yesterday, Minjihau refuted claims by certain landowners that all matters had been heard, with delays for site visitations being the only hurdle.
“The commission wishes to inform all the landowners claiming benefits from the Ramu
Nickel mine that many land disputes are yet to be heard by the SLTC, especially those emanating from the coastal pipeline segment,” his statement said.
“It is incorrect for any landowner to say that the SLTC hearings on the landowner disputes are completed. There are 40 land disputes still to be heard.”
The letter said despite the completion of all matters relating to the Kurumbukari land hearings, site visits could not be done earlier as landowners were involved in the recent elections.
A deferral was requested by the provincial government due to sorcery practices by landowners around the court premises, than a two-weeks deferral was requested upon the deaths of the late David Tigavu of Kurumbukari, and Charles Okori of the coastal pipeline area. An additional 100 new landowner disputes were filed and that other financial and administrative issues hampered the hearings.
Minjihau said that despite the challenges faced, hearings for Kurumbukari, inland pipeline and Basamuk had been completed.
“Coastal pipeline matters have been complicated further with the recent kambang or lime throwing outside the court building.
“Site visits for inland pipeline and Basamuk have been completed as well with KBK visit scheduled for next week.”
Minjihau said the coastal pipeline hearing, where many disputes had risen, would be done after the 40 cases were completed.
“Hearings by the SLTC for the mining and petroleum project disputes have all encountered uncertain outcomes. Such SLTC’s had either been discontinued, are subject to further SLTC reviews because of continuous disagreements among landowners or appealed to the courts and have resulted in long delays to payment of landowner benefits.
“We assure all stakeholders, including landowners, project developers and the national government that we will do our utmost to successfully complete the land dispute hearings,”he said.
The other two commissioners are Kutt Paonga and Joe Gabut, who recently replaced
who has taken up a new post in Port Moresby.