The National, Friday 14th of March, 2014
By LAZARUS BIRA
HELA landowners of the LNG project areas claim they have not seen any major benefit from the multi-billion kina LNG project since the signing of a benefit-sharing agreement in 2009.
Their understanding was that basic services such as provision of health services, education, road infrastructures, water supply, electricity, houses and relocation of affected landowners would come their way.
The chairman and chief of the Tuguba Pepe Mbele Landowners’ Association for Hides PDL1, South Hides PDL7 and Juha PDL 9, Mathew Iruka said his members had not seen any such benefits, termed maximum benefits, from the project.
“The benefits we have agreed on and signed by the state, developer and the landowners in Kokopo, have not reached us,” Iruka said.
He said people were experiencing the impact of the project on the environment and their lives.
“The small people of Southern Highlands, Hela, Gulf, Central and other people of Papua New Guinea are not getting any spin-off benefits from the giant companies involved in the project areas in Hides, Angore and Gobe and areas at the pipeline and portion 152.”
Iruka said ExxonMobil did not have plans to create business opportunities for the impacted small people.
He claimed that the previous government did not give ample time to landowners and stakeholders to study the LNG benefit sharing agreement documents and the process was bulldozed.
“Therefore, the expected maximum benefits have not reached the legitimate landowners who live in the project sites,” Iruka claimed.
“Benefits in terms of basic services like health, education, road infrastructures, water supply, electricity, houses and relocation of affected landowners were neglected,’’ he said.
“Locals or visitors from abroad calling into the Hides to see the LNG construction phase and the conditioning plant would blame the previous government and clan leaders who had signed benefit sharing agreement.”