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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 17) – Demands for compensation for the use of village land for infrastructure such as roads is common in many parts of Papua New Guinea.

It is no different at the Angabanga river site in Bereina district of Kairuku in Central Province. A group of villagers has camped near the river to collect fees of between K30 to K50 from every truck using the particular section of the road.

The villagers said the 40meter- wide national road has been partially washed away near the river and vehicles passing through the area are traveling on land which the Government has not paid for.

Buses and trucks from as far away as Kerema and Port Moresby are charged the fee at the river site.

Lands valuer Adrian Abby said people in Central Province were reasonable when they asked for compensation and believed the compensation claims by the villagers for a bypass to be built on their land would not be excessive. 

Angabanga bridge, about 400m away from where the river erosion is taking place, was built in 1970s. 

Over the years, the villagers said the river channel had been changing its course and begun to erode a section of the road. It is threatening to wash away a few villages and possibly the bridge as well unless a bypass is built to divert the river channel to its original course which is where the bridge is.

Technical experts from the Central provincial works department said when the problem was first reported in 1993, they were looking at building a bypass at a cost of K60,000, but the cost had now gone up to K2 million. 

Central Province Governor Alphonse Moroi, who led technical experts and others from the National Disaster and Emergency services and the provincial administration to asses the damage, said he would meet urgently with Kairuku-Hiri MP Sir Moi Avei, Gulf Governor Chris Haiveta and Deputy Prime Minister Moses Maladina to address the issue.

February 17, 2004

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