Tari residents confused over relocation plan

National, Normal

RESIDENTS of the township of Tari, Southern Highlands, are in the dark over the government’s plan to develop the town into “Hela city”, and where they will be relocated.
Development plans are also likely to be hampered by compensation demand for land, most of which is already state land.
Part of the development plan includes the upgrade of the Tari Airport, which had already met resistance from villagers living there.
The airport was recently closed by protesting villagers, but re-opened days later at the urging of Education Minister and local MP James Marape, who promised to look into their grievances.
Tom Makire, a resident who has lived there since 1999 and operates Kemute Trading, a small business which provides office services for town residents, villagers, and retail business.
Makire said residents were in the dark over where they would move to for the development of the town, or “Hela city”.
“We are in the dark. There is no dialogue between us and the leaders and the developers.
“We are seeing machines moving in and people told to leave, but were they being relocated.
“I don’t know where I’ll take my business.
“There is no alternate township. What I’m saying may not go down well with some, but I speak for the silent majority who will be affected.
“There are excavators and dozers ready to move them out.
“Where are they going to move to? We need a proper development plan.
“We need good dialogue between developers, the government and people who will be affected,” Makire said.
“People appreciate that change is coming, but they want to know exactly what is happening and what the future holds for them.
“They need to be assured.
“Leaders are not coming down to sit and explain to them, to help them out. People feel frustrated.”
LNG project operator Esso Highlands will have to deal with Kia clansmen who are claiming K6.6 million over a piece of land the company had earmarked as a lay-down or storage area.
The land is formerly a market known as portion 170. Villagers are demanding the money up front before the land could be used.