Source: The National, Tuesday 20th November, 2012
THE two-day roadblock at the Poroma junction to the Kutubu oil fields was cleared yesterday by Southern Highlands police.
The police used force to clear the roadblock.
The villagers set the roadblock last Friday morning, preventing big trucks and the public from travelling into Kutubu from Mendi.
Provincial police commander Sibron Patoto said yesterday that the roadblock was set after a local, who worked with a company contracted to Oil Search Ltd, failed to get any compensation for injuries he had sustained at work. The man was on a wheelchair.
Patoto said this was the third time the locals had set illegal roadblocks because of the delay by the company to pay compensation.
He said the first one was set at the start of this year and another was around June when police moved in and easily cleared the road.
“I told the relatives of the victim and management of the company to come to a round-table discussion and resolve their problem peacefully,” Patoto said.
He said they could not hold other people and big companies operating in Kutubu oil fields at ransom.
It’s a national highway and it must be cleared at all times for the travelling public, he said.
Taking the law into their own hands would not help solve the problem.
Patoto said the victim was frustrated when his former employer played delaying tactics to prolong the compensation demand for the paralysing injuries.
He said that after the two roadblocks, numerous negotiations without success because the company didn’t meet the demand of the victim.
“I told them that this illegal roadblock must be first and last and want the matter to be resolved outside peacefully in the presence of police,” Patoto said.