PNG VILLAGERS UP ANTE AFTER ULTIMATUM IGNORED

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New demand: $728,000 and 100 pigs

By Bola Noho PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 26, 2010) – In Papua New Guinea (PNG), Porebada villagers in Central Province [last week] blocked-off Porebada/Boera road over non-payment of compensation after a 14-day ultimatum lapsed.

The compensation was for killing of four youths, injuries to several others and destruction of food gardens over a land dispute between Porebada and Boera villagers last month along the corridor road to the PNG LNG plant site.

[PIR editor’s note: A fight allegedly over ownership of land where the PNG Liquefied Natural Gas facility is proposed to be built began the conflict between the Porebada and Boera villagers. See more on previous story.]

According to Porebada villagers’ spokesman, Colin Morea the purpose of their peaceful sit-in protest was to force Sir Moi Avei, his Boera people, the Papua New Guinea Liquefied Natural Gas (PNG LNG) developer Exxon Mobil and the National Government to pay their compensation claim because the deadline had lapsed.

"We gave them 14 days to respond but they failed to meet our demand therefore we decided to halt the PNG LNG project," said Mr. Morea.

He said from yesterday onwards their new demand from Sir Moi and Boera people, Exxon Mobil and the State would be 2 million kina [US$728,200] plus 100 pigs from previous demands of 700,000 kina [US$255,000] plus 50 pigs.

Mr. Morea said they would continue with their sit-in protest, blocking the road until they pay the demand or get a word from the State.

He said the three parties involved were Sir Moi and Boera people, the Exxon Mobil and the National Government.

"We are disappointed therefore we don’t want any negotiation from anyone and Boera people should not return to their village until the peace process is completed," he said.

Mr. Morea said their demand would accumulate if the parties failed to respond.

The villagers thanked their governor, Alphonse Moroi, Member for Kairuku/Hiri, Paru Aihi and their local level government president Iaviri Ova and the policemen who are at the site to keep peace.

Mr. Aihi said the sit-in protest was over the non-response from the Government. He said the petition was specific and 14 days were given. "The governor and myself are concerned because the State and the developer, Exxon Mobil, are turning a blind eye to my people. We will be with our people until the problem is resolved," said Mr. Aihi.

The MP urged the Government to go down to the village level and solve the problem or it might be protracted.

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