By JUNIOR UKAHA

VULUPINDI Haus came under siege yesterday as 300 angry landowners from the LNG project area stormed the building.

The landowners from Juha, Angore, Gobe, Hides, Komo and Moran stood in front of the building at 1pm and demanded that National Planning Minister Sam Basil, Treasurer Don Polye and Petroleum and Energy Minister William Duma meet them and explain where their K240 million infrastructure development grants (IDG) was being held.

The building, which houses the departments of National Planning and Finance, was deserted as employees left for home early or stayed indoors as police guarded the premises.

Hides PDL1-PDL7 landowners’ spokesman Stanley Mamu said they would close the building and camp in the area until they received a satisfactory explanation from Basil, Polye and Duma.

“They must come here and explain to us. Where are they now?” he said.

“Basil promised to relay our concerns to the NEC last Friday. We should get our answers today (yesterday).”

Mamu said during the umbrella benefits-sharing agreement signing in Kokopo in 2009, landowners were promised the money so that their companies would be engaged in projects instead of outside contractors.

National Planning secretary Dr Peter Gallah Kora, however, said the IDGs were not “cash handouts” but funds meant for specific projects such as roads, schools, hospitals and bridges in the LNG project area.

Kora did not say who qualified for the funds and what criteria was used to select project contractors.

Basil said more than 700 submissions had been received and it would cost the people of PNG K120 million annually for the next 10 years.

Kevin Lai Tindipu, from Juha PDL9, said since 2009, many landowners had died while waiting in vain for their money. Others ended up in jail or faced family breakdowns after they failed to repay money borrowed from loan sharks.

NCD-Central commander Francis Tokura yesterday said police presence on the ground was to “monitor the situation”.

He said policemen were there to protect state property, and would remain there until everything was resolved.