The National, Wednesday 8th May 2013
By PETER ESOP WARI
DRIVERS of trucking companies engaged at the PNG LNG project in Hela resumed operations yesterday after going on strike on Sunday.
Tari police station commander Peter Buka said 60 semi-trailers stationed at the Curtain Brothers camp in Tari had all departed.
The drivers went on strike after two of them were assaulted by locals and a security escort vehicle confiscated at Tidom Hill in Southern Highlands.
The escort vehicle has since been returned after negotiations with the locals on Monday.
Southern Highlands provincial police commander Kaiglo Ambane said the reason for the attack and road-block was not clear. But he said the road had been cleared.
He said a team of policemen from Mendi had been dispatched to escort the Traisa Trucking Company semi-trailers.
He has not received further information from the company.
The drivers have asked PNG LNG developer ExxonMobil and the national government to fix the road immediately as they were being assaulted and robbed when they have been forced to slow down or stop because of the atrocious condition of the highway.
Poroma local level government president Andrew Kirr said the confisticated vehicle was returned after a peaceful negotiation on Monday.
He said locals from the area claimed that on many occasions, semi-trailers destined for Hela were forced to stop at Tindom Hill because road conditions and locals provided them security.
Kirr said efforts by local people to provide security were not acknowledged by the security firm. It was why the vehicle was taken forcefully.
“I believe the problem will still continue unless the road is sealed,” he said.
Kirr said a nine-year-old student was admitted to the Mendi General Hospital in February after being hit by a flying stone off the wheels of a semi-trailer and injured.
“In the dry spell, people living along the Highlands Highway from Kiburu to Hela are affected by dust from convoys of heavy trucks, causing respiratory problems,” he said.
“Who is responsible to have the road sealed?’’