By WALLACE KIALA
A MAN is in critical condition at the Port Moresby General Hospital after he was hit on the head with a rock during a brawl between security guards and an angry mob, claiming to be landowners from Southern Highlands province, outside the Department of Petroleum and Energy premises at Konedobu yesterday.
A team from the police mobile squad was called to the scene soon and arrested a person suspected of provoking the incident after insults and abuses were exchanged as the crowd gathered yesterday morning.
The wounded “landowner” was rushed by ambulance to the POMGH accidents and emergency unit.
Police at the scene said the group allegedly representing the Hides, Angore, East Mananda, Juha, Moran and Kutubu landowners had fronted up at the gates between 9am and 10am yesterday demanding for their outstanding claims from the PNG LNG project MoAs for the Hides and Moran sites.
Meanwhile, the DPE office gates were kept locked during most of yesterday while a second load of security guards from the firm manning the premises was dispatched at the site to assist police control the situation.
DPE officers did not work but watched the incident from inside the gate.
At around midday, a meeting was convened between DPE and landowner officials as police continued to control the crowd outside the gate.
The crowd began to disperse from the area at around 1pm after being informed by their spokesman that DPE officials had assured that landowner group demands (payments) would be met by tomorrow.
A spokesman for the group, which numbered over a hundred, told The National that they had gathered because DPE had informed them in the past weeks that they would be paid yesterday.
Other demands by the landowners since January are still outstanding.
Apparently, this same group had gathered outside the DPE office and at Vulupindi Haus over a week ago threatening that the LNG project would not proceed if the Government failed to fast track the release of the funds.
They said the funds were from the memorandum of agreements, special segment grants (SSG) and other grants which they claimed were promised to them by the Government.
Attempts to get comments from DPE yesterday were unsuccessful.