From the Post Courier (12/9/11)
EARLY works including engineering, procurement and construction (ECP) phase 5 on the proposed Komo international LNG airport in the soon-to-be Hela province has come to a stop because of protest by landowners as of Wednesday last week.
The landowners from the five major clans Maya Urapi, Takima, Tapu Undupi, Yumu and Himini last Wednesday staged a peaceful protest and marched to the gates of the access road to the proposed airport and ordered developer of the multi-billion kina PNG LNG project ExxonMobil and its international contractors and developer of the airport McConnell Dowell Consolidated Contractors Joint Venture (MCJV) to stop work until the State addresses their outstanding demands.
Mr John Pipiya Paranda, spokesman and chairman of Mandaki Limited, the umbrella landowner company for the Komo airfield landowners, demanded that the National Government release their business development grants (BDG) that has being outstanding and owed to them since 2009.
Mr Paranda said while landowners from Hides and other project areas including the Papa and Lealea facility landowners in Port Moresby have got their BDGs, it was unfair for Komo landowners who are still waiting for their BDGs to be paid in order for them to participate in the spin-off business and economic activities at Komo.
Mr Paranda said they have been waiting patiently for nearly one and half year now and as their patient is running out, they are staging the peaceful protest to force the developer and the contractor from carrying out any further developments on the Komo airfield project until and unless the National Government comes good with their claims.
Mr Paranda called on the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Petroleum Minister William Duma to immediately look into their demands including meeting all other outstanding benefits like memorandum of agreement (MOA) project funds and seed capital, adding that the Komo LNG airfield is an important component and facility for the LNG project and the National Government must look into their demands with due attention and urgency. He said any further delay in making the payments would mean further delay to the development of the LNG airport at Komo.
“My people have been overlooked for so long and therefore we have decided to take this non-violent approach to show our frustration.
“We have locked the gates of the access road to the airfield site as of last Wednesday and we also presented a copy of our petition to ExxonMobil and MCJV representatives on site at Komo.
“Work at airport is shut as of last Wednesday,” Mr Paranda told the Post-Courier from Komo yesterday. He said on Saturday, ExxonMobil sent in the police mobile squad to arrest him but after assessing that his arrest would ignite more landowner unrests, they released him. While Mr Paranda and other Komo landowners still insisted yesterday that work has stopped at the Komo LNG airfield.