Namah backs landowners

Main Stories, National

The National, Thursday January 30th, 2014

 THE Opposition has welcomed the decision by Ok Tedi mine landowners to reclaim what they had lost, or denied to them, by the Government and the mining company.

Opposition Leader Belden Namah said in a statement the court action was a start for 

affected landowners and communities to getting justice through the courts against the Government and developers in the extractive industry.

“Our reaction to the case before the National Court is this: We have adopted a stupid system where the State has got itself tangled up in mining and hydrocarbon developments as a shareholder as well as a regulator,” he said.

“When a government becomes an investor in a project, it places itself in a conflict of interest and easily compromises the interests and welfare of the people that it is supposed to protect or promote. 

“By becoming a shareholder it cannot be an independent umpire any more. 

“The glaring and shameful environmental disasters seen at the Bougainville Copper Mine and at Ok Tedi are proof. It is testimony of ignorance and neglect of people’s welfare by successive PNG governments.

“Our natural environment is destroyed beyond repair and our people’s dependence on the natural environment for their survival is completely gone.

“The result is that the people are left vulnerable to life-threatening problems such as hunger, diseases, poisoning and reduced economic opportunities.

“The second reason why the present system is because it is lopsided in that benefits-sharing favors the developers many fold over, than land owners and the Government put together.”