The traditional landowners of the Tumbi quarry have called on both the Government and the Developer to immediately relocate the four major clans (Ware, Pepe, Parakua and Imini) to safe and secure agricultural land before they become the next landslide victims.
The leaders of the clans namely: Giya Hawi, Libe Hale, Tokoya Piwago, Wabe Ako, Abe Okopi, Tiki Halimbu, Tomo Warolo, Urupu Andawi, Wandipe Kau, Ekanda Timbabu, Timothy Nogobe, Ekawi Hale, Tiki Yuli, Peter Pamiari, Hiruba Yakapi, Tamita Malamu, Ekawi Tanda, Ako Tagirali, Tumbiyama Andigi, Eka Lawi, Nane Pipila, John Kuni, Pape Timbabu, Toya Komapuk, Tandali Kilip, Tabi Togola, Kula Potabe, Kupiawi Aluya, Daniel Huripa and Michael Kane talked to this reporter this afternoon from Tumbi village.
"People are not willing to give us shelter, food, clothes, land and gardens because of the impression that we are rich landowners...We are victimized by the so called Multi Million Kina LNG project", said Mr. Hibson Puma.
The Tumbi Quarry landowner Chief Yogobo Piwago said, he had requested many times for the developer (ExxonMobil) to resettle the village before work began on the quarry but this fell on deaf ears.
"We have been living on this land for the past 6000 years", said Mr Timothy Nogobe, "this is the first time our mountain has killed us. We have therefore come to conclude that what has triggered the landslide is the quarry and the use of chemicals and dynamite to blast the quarry at the top of the mountain, this has changed the ground water (Tumbi and Tuku) for the rapid breakdown of the mountain Tumbi burying alive more than 25 people. According to Hela historical record, our mountains (namely GIGIRA, HALIAGO, ILU, KEPUA, URAGA, BE-DINI, AMBUA-KELAPO AND TAU-PARILA) have withstood the earth quakes, intense rainfalls but never collapsed its structures like what happened at Tumbi Quarry".
Mr. Michael Kane said that "we support the LNG project but it must be done within the laws of our country and it must respect the rights of the indigenous landowners and its environment. Our long journey to successfully harvesting the benefits of our Gas depends on how well, the State and the Developer proactively and sensitively address this disaster with the victim and affected families within the quarry Tumbi".
Mr. Hibson Puma called on the PPC and PSC in Tari to use the Tari, Koroba and Margarima Police to provide security at the site and not hire mobile squads from outside the Province as it is insulting to the immediate families of the deaths. "We are not at war! We need clean water, garden food, shelter and comfort. We do not need to see high powered guns in this type of situation".
PNG LNG Watch fears that if ExxonMobil and the PNG government does not respond to the affected landowners' demand at this time, the frustration of the deceased relatives will rise and might cause the destruction on the PNG LNG project.