Villager claims his people not benefiting from SABL

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday 4th September, 2012

SOME East Sepik landowners in the country still think special agriculture business leases (SABLs) should be eliminated and the policy reconsidered.
Landowners in Turubu local level government, East Sepik, whose land falls under portion 144c, thought SABLs were not the right way forward for agricultural or other developments on customary land.
One clan leader and representative of Mundawin village, Andrew Waram, said last Sunday from Wewak that under the arrangement, his people had never received tangible benefits despite logging and oil palm development beginning almost five years ago.
He said after the 28th shipment of round logs from the area, local people still lacked services that should have come with such operations.
Waram said since the operation began in 2008, damage done to food and cash crops had not been fully compensated for and that their only source of clean water had been destroyed.
“The village now faces a shortage of clean water and infighting among clan members with other clans on benefit sharing issues.”
Waram said he supported efforts by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his government to table the Commission of Inquiry report into SABLs in parliament and revisit the policy because it had overlooked customary land rights.
He commended non-government organisations and other stakeholders for pursuing the issue at the national and international level.
Waram urged the O’Neill government to rule in favour of the people, saying they felt the pain of such a policy that gave authority over their resources to foreign corporations.