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Workers threatened by drunken villagers

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 8, 2010) - Construction works for the Papua New Guinea Liquefied Natural Gas (PNG LNG) project are moving at a snail’s pace as law and order situation takes its toll in the gas project areas.

Chairman of the Hiwa Tuguba Hides Association,Tuguyawini Libe Parindali, said yesterday that construction work for the proposed Komo international airport and at Hides had been suspended indefinitely by the operator of the project, Esso Highlands Limited, because workers were being frequently threatened by people under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

The Komo airport is being built purposely to fly in equipment for the Hides gas plants for the PNG LNG Project.

"This is very bad for the PNG LNG project. Our calls to ban the sale and consumption of alcohol in the Southern Highlands Province have fallen on deaf ears," Mr. Parindali said. "If we are not careful, we are going to lose the LNG project." He said there was a big problem with alcohol consumption in all oil and gas project areas and these "are serious issues that needed to be looked at immediately".

Mr. Parindali said the Government had deserted all project sites including Hides, Kutubu, Gobe and Moran after the signing of the licence based benefit sharing agreements (LBBSA).

He said there were also no Government officers at the project sites and landowner leaders were not always there but were "doing things by remote control from Port Moresby". "I am warning the Government now that the PNG LNG project will be in jeopardy if the Government does not act quickly to address these laws and order problems," he said.

"The Government should be sending in policemen to control the law and order situation in the project areas and also provide security for workers and equipment in these project sites." He said the lives and safety of workers and equipment should not be threatened by men who were under the influence of liquor. "I am now renewing my previous calls to ban the sale and consumption of alcohol in the Southern Highlands Province" he said.

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