Newly-sworn in commissioners show ‘enthusiasm’ despite massive task ahead

National, Normal

THE new land title commissioners for the Ramu nickel project, who were sworn in at Government House yesterday, were told of the massive task ahead of them.
Commissioner Michael Gene said more than 300 hearings were to be heard and “we want to undertake our task as soon as possible”.
He was backed by current Chief Lands Commissioner and former chief magistrate Micah Pitpit.
There will be three commissioners but the third will be sworn in later as Justice Don Sawong has been sworn in as a judge in the National and Supreme Courts.
Mr Gene said they would sort out administrative and logistical arrangements and were hopeful of getting the ball rolling in due course.
Funding will also have to be sourced and Mr Gene said they would take it up with cabinet for support.
Mr Gene said the commissioners’ task was to identify legitimate landowners because, at the moment, there were agreements but some genuine landowners had been left out.
Apart from identifying real landowners, the commissioners needed to resolve the issues as soon as possible to ensure the project proceeded smoothly.
Mr Gene said massive projects such as the Ramu nickel project contributed significantly to economic and social development.
“As such, it is important to ensure the project’s smooth operation and security. For now, the immediate task will be to sort some ground rules for the hearings,” he said.
They will be travelling to Madang today to sort things out and also meet with stakeholders, including landowners.