PAPUA NEW GUINEA TELIKOM TO GET LANDOWNERS INVOLVED

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (January 8, 2001 - The Independent/PINA Nius Online)---More than 20 telecommunications repeater stations on New Guinea Island’s mountain peaks hope to have a sabotage-free life with the introduction of two landowner benefit plans by Telikom PNG.

The repeater stations have been the targets of disgruntled landowners in the past.

A senior Telikom official said the two packages were very attractive and hopes the landowners will accept them as they are. They involve over K 4,000 (US$ 1.2 million) being paid to landowners in return for the safe keeping of the repeater stations each year.

Telikom has asked people claiming ownership of land where some of its repeater stations are located to settle their differences quickly and identify only the true landowners.

The two schemes will only apply to genuine landowners and come in the form of huge sums of money being paid out to the rightful landowners every year.

Telikom will also be negotiating their uses with landowners with the intention of offering them benefit packages.

The East and West New Britain provinces have 12 mountains where repeater stations are located; New Ireland has five, Manus has one, and Bougainville has four including Nissan Island.

The two packages are comprised of a security and maintenance fee worth K 2,400 (US$ 756,000) per year and a community service fee of K 1,000 (US$ 315).

The security and maintenance fee is accumulative over five to ten years and is paid to the landowners on the condition that they look after the repeater stations and feel responsible for their up keep.

"The second package, which is the community service fee, is worth K 1,000 (US$ 315) and this is paid straight to either community schools or health centers within the vicinity of the stations’ immediate locality," the official said.

He said that the schemes were already in operation in some parts of the country and Telikom now wanted to officially launch it in the islands region.

Telikom is hopeful that when the schemes are launched, they will help in curbing the rampant unlawful vandalizing of very expensive equipment in New Ireland province and other parts of the islands region.

Millions of kina spent on installing these important communication stations have doubled over the years as a result of damage by when criminals, forcing Telikom to spend more money restoring them.

"Some of the equipment is not only expensive, but very important and hard to bring into the country quickly. We would expect people to recognize their significance and appreciate why we have repeater stations located in their areas," the official said.

Telikom signed the first of such schemes with the local landowners of Mt. Tamavatur in East New Britain province two years ago.

The local landowners have agreed to a five-year lease on the mountain with financial benefits already being paid into their account.

The period of a lease can range from five to ten years on a renewable basis and payment is made on an accumulative basis at the end of the lease period.

For additional reports from The Independent, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Independent (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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