PNG Parliament Consider Law To Criminalize Setting Up Roadblocks

Blocking roads, especially the Highlands Highway, is common method for landowners to seek compensation for greivances

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Jan. 18, 2017) – Papua New Guinea parliamentarians are expected to consider new laws that make it a criminal offence to mount a roadblock.

Roadblocks by disgruntled landowner groups seeking compensation for grievances are common in PNG, especially in the Highlands region.

The main Highlands Highway has been described as the lifeline of PNG's economy.

However frequent roadblocks on the highway are increasingly seen as damaging PNG's economic growth.

As such, the government is understood to be considering legislation in next week's parliamentary session to criminalise roadblocks.

One anonymous landowner said that roadblocks are sometimes the only form of leverage which grassroots communities have with provincial and national governments which fail to deliver promised development packages.

Meanwhile, the prime minister Peter O'Neill told local media that businesses must be discouraged from paying landowners to remove road blocks even when it is a blockage caused by a landslip.

He said that while he appreciated the good intentions of businesses in doing this, payments to remove blockages can encourage copy-cat behaviour.

It is supposed to be the job of provincial Works teams to clear landslips, although the department is understood to have been under budget constraints for some time.

Radio New Zealand International
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