THE Highlands Highway is dubbed the artery of Madang, Morobe and the five Highlands provinces.
The highway links almost half the nation’s population.
The importance of the highway has been elevated with the emergence of the LNG project.
Infrastructural development will inevitably precede and LNG developer ExxonMobil affirmed the importance of upgrading the highway.
In PNG, where 97% of the land is customary, land issues are delicate and thorny where many disputes are left unresolved.
The Highlands Highway, a vital infrastructure for the LNG project and beyond, must be given serious consideration it merits.
The Works Department’s modus operandi to date is confrontational and not receptive to landowners or of the broader national objectives.
An atmosphere of animosity and strife looms, especially by aggrieved land owners in the Simbu and Western Highlands portions of the highway.
The Works secretary appears to be operating in a vacuum devoid of broader liaison and consultations.
Consequently, disgruntled landowners resorted to threats.
The powers that be had not contemplated the adverse consequences such indifference would impact on an important national project.
Common sense should prevail.
The bureaucracy tasked to implement government policy should refrain from indulging in windows of opportunity by design and manoeuvrability.
Similarly, the Works Minister should exercise caution and be seen to be impartial as there are various factions of claimants to consider.
Recently, Chief Secretary Manasupe Zurenuoc and the Simbu provincial administration reiterated the necessity of compensation.
It is hoped Mr Zurenuoc is thoroughly briefed on all pertinent issues in respect of these claims.
Any deviation will certainly precipitates an uprising of undesirable magnitude bordering on national security