The National, Tuesday July 9th, 2013
By JAMES GUMUNO
VILLAGERS living along the 10km section of the road between the Togoba Road junction and Nebilyer River in Western Highlands stopped Lorma Construction last Friday from working on the multimillion kina road maintenance.
The villagers living along the road in Nebilyer district demanded outstanding payments for improvements under the Highlands Highway Rehabilitation Project (HHRP) before allowing the maintenance work to resume.
The claimants from the eight council wards said they were still waiting for the outstanding payment from 2008 for the project.
Tonny Paias, the spokesman for the claimants from Waipip village, where Lorma Construction is now based, said yesterday they told the company to stop work last Friday while waiting for the payment.
Paias said under the rehabilitation project, many houses, including bush material, semi and permanent buildings and other developments beside the road were cleared away for the road maintenance carried out by Shorncliff Construction in 2008.
He said their properties were valued by private consultants with assistance from provincial works and then sent to the Works Department for payment but no payments were made.
“The Works Department bypassed us and paid the claimants living between Pabrabuk and Wara Kagul, on the border of Southern Highlands, for improvements under the HHRP in 2009,” he said.
Paias said on June 4, provincial works manager Matthew Windi called eight representatives from the eight councils and assured them that he would find the money and pay them.
“When we went and saw Windi again for payment in his office he didn’t give us a good response,” he said.
“We will look after the Lorma Construction base in my area and will allow the company to continue on its major road upgrading and maintenance from Togoba-Nebilyer River as soon as our outstanding is paid,” he said.
Paias added that the Wapip people were not happy that other villages had received their payments and that they had missed out.