By ZACHERY PER
LANDOWNERS with outstanding claims under the Highlands Highway Rehabilitation Programme along the Simbu section will be paid this year, before any major rehabilitation work proceeds.
Chief Secretary to the Government Manasupe Zurenuoc said this on Wednesday while visiting the deteriorating section of the highway at Ouna and Mindima, a few kilometers west of Kundiawa.
“All necessary verifications and valuations have been completed and finalised, it’s only a matter of paying you,” Mr Zurenuoc told the landowners, noting that “slackness” within the public service had kept them waiting five years to be paid.
Mr Zurenuoc urged the Ouna landowners to reconsider their decision to seek redress in court.
“I come to help you to get your dues, now it’s time to sort out the problems caused by slack public servants.
“I will inform Works secretary Joel Luma to speed up the payments, to be made in June-July,” Mr Zurenuoc told The National.
However, Ouna landowners spokesman David Parak said they were promised K50 million early this month but there was no sign of the money.
The landowners along the Highway, between Magiro and Waghi, had submitted claims totalling K68 million, prompting the Works Department to engage verifications teams to confirm the claims.
National Fiscal Commission director Dr Noa Badu, who accompanied Mr Zurenuoc, said the Highway was in dire need of maintenance.
Kongo Coffee managing director Jerry Kapka told the delegation that too much attention was given to the LNG project than the Okuk Highway, which was an important infrastructure which would accelerate the progress of the project.
Mr Kapka called on the Government to settle outstanding landowners’ disputes before undertaking a major rehabilitation of the Highway.
Mr Zurenuoc is visiting Simbu province with a delegation of departmental heads, provincial programme coordinators and AusAID representatives to see different national projects.