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Government pays $201,000 compensation to Koiari landowners

By Angeline Karius and Samuel Raitano PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, April 29, 2011) – In Papua New Guinea (PNG), Water and power was restored to Port Moresby residents at 1 pm yesterday after Koiari landowners reached an agreement with the national government and National Capital District Commissioner (NCDC).

The landowners agreed to accept 500,000 kina [US$201, 000] instead of the 1.5 million kina [US$604, 000] they had demanded.

They then handed over the keys to the Rouna II hydropower station.

By 8 pm last night, electricity and water were fully restored to the capital city.

The keys were given in exchange for the payment, which would be used to facilitate talks between the landowners and the national government over outstanding memorandum of understanding (MoU) issues.

National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop said the 500,000 kina [US$201,000] from the City Hall was not to compensate for the death of Koiari leader Umaia Koeari.

It was to help the landowners begin negotiations under the established task force committee and ensure a memorandum of agreement (MoA) was reached.

He said he would join the task force team, set up by the national government, to address the grievances the landowners had with the state in order to solve the matter once and for all.

He said compensation payments by the government would set a precedent for future demands when similar incidents occurred.

Parkop said the 1.5 million- kina [US$604,000] compensation requested by landowners should be paid by the perpetrators responsible for Koeari’s death and not the government.

Koeari was killed on April 19 at Hohola 3, Port Moresby.

Parkop thanked acting Prime Minister Sam Abal, Higher Education Minister and Kairuku-Hiri Member of Parliament, Paru Aihi and Finance Minister Peter O’Neill for their help in reaching a quick resolution to the water and power crisis in the capital.

"I am happy that an agreement has been reached, and power and water supply restored," Parkop said.

Aihi thanked his people for taking the boldness to address the issue.

"Koiari people have been neglected for too long," he said, stressing that a MoA was needed to secure commitments on their behalf and the government to fully realize its positions on the agreement.

He said Abal and Attorney-General Sir Arnold Amet had assured their support for the people.

Both PNG Power and Eda Ranu officers thanked Parkop for resolving the dispute.

Landowners cut water and power supplies to Port Moresby on Tuesday.

PNG Power workmen were filling the head pond and penstock before water could go into Rouna 1, III and IV power stations to start generating electricity.

Linesmen were working on a fallen line that caused a blackout last night and disrupted the starting of auxiliary equipment at the power stations.

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