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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 8) – A local landowner group in East New Britain has said development within Papua New Guinea’s fastest growing town, Kokopo, did not involve any input from the indigenous people.

[PIR editor’s note: The Papua New Guinea island province of New Britain is located north east of the Papua New Guinea mainland peninsula.]

The group said: "The Kokopo town development without local participation is a killer to us local indigenous people, therefore, we do not want the same to apply to other districts and local level governments."

Chairman of the Rataubar Butan Incorporated Land group — which is a part of the Taramini Association — Arnold Tivelit said the land on which Kokopo town was situated was not properly identified, rectified and applied by Land laws for the strict benefit of its surrounding communities.

He said, therefore, the local communities were not participating in the development of the town.

"Traditional landowners of the Kokopo Township were neglected of their rights of the land ownership resulting in us having giant killer businessmen — mostly foreigners running the show on our own land."

He accused provincial leaders of supporting the foreigners.

Mr. Tivelit said they were now concerned over the four major development projects currently underway in the province.

These are the Ulaveo Fish Cannery project, the Tokua Airport upgrading, integrated oil palm development and the Wild dog mining.

He said the main reason locals did not participate in these developments was over the issue of land distribution processes.

Mr. Tivelit and other association executives have now called on the government to identify land reserves, which could then go back to the locals to develop.

He said this was the only way in which indigenous people of East New Britain could participate actively in projects and developments that would affect their lives.

November 9, 2005

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier:

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