Oil palm lull irks East Sepik locals

National, Normal

The National, Monday, June 6th 2011

THE people of Turubu LLG, East Sepik, are unhappy with the way the multi-million kina oil palm project is being developed.
Many landowners were complaining that forests were being logged at an alarming rate while work on oil palm estates had hit a lull.
A Catholic priest and Integrated Land Group (ILG) chairman of Sinamblai village, Willie Suai, said even the landowners’ resources were being used without a proper agreement signed with the authorities concerned.
Suai said people were cheated into paying lousy money as royalties for the damage done to their forested land and cash crops causing frustration among resource owners who wanted to receive maximum benefit from their resources.
He said the road alignment from the log pond to the project area was sub-standard with camps built speedily for purpose other than logging.
Local workers from the base camp and nursery site also expressed uncertainty over the development of oil palm adding that they have never heard the company talking about developing oil palm in the area.
Nursery workers said they were working in isolation with no support vehicle, proper accommodation, adequate wages and very minimal supervision as all expatriate workers are busy with logging activities.
The 50,000 seedlings at the nursery are ready for planting but the company has yet to prepare fields for planting.
Former provincial police commander Leo Kabilo also called on the provincial forestry officers to investigate the allegation and stop the company from logging timber if they have no plans to develop oil palm.
He also called on police not to suppress rights of landowners when they speak out on issues affecting their resources.
Kabilo also pledged to meet provincial police commander Vincent Pokas and terminate services of auxiliary personnel providing security with logging companies.