THE controversial billion-kina tuna processing zone that is now taking shape in Madang has won full support from six legitimate landowner clans living around the project site.
The said clans reside at Kananam village, which is part of the Vidar estate that hosts the 215ha-Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ) project of the Government outside of Madang town.
The landowners belonged to the Kananam Investment Ltd (KIL), an umbrella company which is now actively involved in initial works at PMIZ that included clearing the area to pave way for the zone’s 8km-long security perimeter fence.
In a full-page advertorial published in The National’s Weekender magazine last Friday, the landowners said they had been actively involved in all discussions held by relevant Government representatives concerning the development of PMIZ.
Dialogues focused on economic issues that would improve their lot and various social and environmental concerns to affect them once PMIZ became fully operational, they said.
The landowners declared: “We are giving the Government and agencies involved in the project, namely the Department of Commerce and Industry (DCI), National Fisheries Authority (NFA), and the Industrial Centre Development Corp (ICDC) our total support and commitment towards full implementation of the PMIZ.”
They said all proceedings of their dialogues with the Government had been documented “to prove landowners’ involvement in all stages of the project”.
In effect, KIL has debunked media campaign claims by a small group of landowners that PMIZ is a “poorly-planned project” and is “being rammed down the throat” of affected landowners.
Branding this minority group “anti-development”, KIL declared: “The only critics (of PMIZ) appear to be those that have motives other than that of development, social and economic betterment of the grassroots (Kananam-Vidar) landowners.”
KIL also said the project detractors “offered nothing but prophecies of doom and gloom” as alternative to PMIZ.
The company said meetings they (opposition) held recently “did not represent the real views and interests of legitimate Kananam people but that of their own sub-clans and family units”.
KIL asked: “Would those that oppose the project provide for the 2,000 Kananam people, not to mention employment, financial support, provision of basic services, and decent meals for all families?”
Through KIL, the landowners said by the end of this month and for the next six months, about 200 clan members would be employed as the site clearing and perimeter fencing progressed.
PMIZ aims to develop a site for at least seven foreign-funded canneries that will process tuna catch from the exclusive economic zones of PNA-member countries, namely Federated State of Micronesia, Marshall Island, Palau, Nauru, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands and PNG.
PNA stands for Parties to the Nauru Agreement.
The Papua New Guinea Government said these countries had yet to maximise the benefits from their tuna harvests, stressing that the only way for them to do this was through the PMIZ.
The Government said the setting up of at least seven canneries at the zone could generate easily about K1.4 billion annually, and provide direct employment to some 30,000 locals.
The economy would also benefit from the gross turnover of other support facilities like can-making, net-making, rope-making and other proposed commercial enterprises, direct and indirect taxes, and many more.