THE dispute that resulted in the deaths of four people after a confrontation between Boera and Porebada villagers stems from greed and self-interest, a concerned landowner said yesterday.
“There is a minority that is leading astray people from proper procedures and policies to get in the way of legitimate landowners and the developer to enforce their interest,” he said.
He made this comments following the demand of K700,000 and 50 pigs by villagers of Porebada in Central province from Boera villagers and the LNG project developer ExxonMobil over the deaths of four Porebada men.
He stressed that the matter was not over the ownership of land relating to the LNG project as reported by the media but was criminal in nature and should be pursued and dealt with by police.
“Despite the anticipation for a LIR (land investigation report), all legitimate landowners and claimants’ chairmen have agreed in an MoA that is inline with the Kokopo agreement and the Murray barracks licenced-based benefits sharing agreement (LBBSA) to work together with the developer and its contractors.
“Under the MoA, it was agreed that projects should go ahead without interference until and after a land investigation is carried out then payments can be made to beneficiaries appropriately.”
What happened, he told The National, was a hijack of this agreement “because a small group, not even a clan decided to stop the road contractor from upgrading a certain section of the road just after the Boera turn-off from the plant site.
The concerned landowner said the confrontation ensued after this particular group threatened the bulldozer driver of the contractor with a knife to his throat and bashed up another workman, who was from Boera.
“Because of that, Boera villagers mobilised in truckloads and retaliated, which later resulted in those deaths,” he said.
He claimed the group involved, who are also party to the MoA, wanted land compensation paid before any work could be done on this particular section of the road.
“Their greed and self-interest contradicted what has been agreed by all under the MoA resulting in the death of the four.”