The National – Tuesday, February 1, 2011
WORK on the LNG project in Hides 4 remain suspended following last week’s intrusion by aggrieved villagers living around the project area while more police comprising members of the Quick Response Unit (QRU) are now in Hides to provide additional security and investigate the incident.
About 30 landowners in a meeting last week expressed their desire to see ExxonMobil and contractor Clough Curtain Joint Venture resume operations immediately.
Police have begun embarking on community awareness programmes to educate the people about the importance of preserving law and order, which they say was crucial to the well being of the people and the resource projects in the province.
The emphasis would be on education and awareness, which remained the biggest impediment to dialogue, understanding and development in Southern Highlands.
Police personnel deployed in Hides and other LNG sites are now trying to explain to the people that the resource projects will bring development for them and they should embrace these opportunities to improve their lives and set the pace for future generations.
Acting Police Commissioner Tony Wagambie last week assured the government and all stakeholders of the LNG project that a team from the police community policing directorate would be engaged in the operations and they would embark on the task of conquering the hearts and minds of the people, by walking and talking to the people living in the villages located close to the project areas.
Police personnel engaged in the operations in Hides have also vowed do everything they can to ensure the people are aware of what is right and wrong and more importantly, encourage them to abstain from causing violence and violating other people’s rights.
The QRU, comprising police personnel from Port Moresby, includes detectives, community relations officers, prosecutors and additional mobile squad personnel whose primary responsibility is to provide additional security, create awareness and investigate and prosecute suspects implicated in the recent conflict at Hides 4.
Names of several suspects involved in the attack were also handed over to police but the biggest challenge now is to employ a proactive strategy aimed at encouraging the people to use peaceful means to resolve disputes.
The situation in Hides is relatively quiet since the arrival of the additional police manpower from Port Moresby.