Hides landowners refuse to budge

Talks are still being held as Hides landowners refuse to buy into explanations provided by the two ministers and other delegates in Hela Province.

After hearing all their concerns, the ministers have asked the landowners to come back and meet with them after parliament next week and within 30 days.

That is when they also plan to talk to Justice Ambeng Kandakasi to see how they can speed up the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process. This is to ensure the method of paying royalties and development levies, including the 2 percent free carry equities, are freed up for distribution.

Managing directors Augustine Mano (Mineral Resources Development Company) and Wapu Sonk (Kumul Petroleum Holdings Limited), assured the landowners that their funds from the 2 percent free carry equity and the 4.27 percent equities are intact and well-kept.

Petroleum and Energy Minister Nixon Duban also assured the landowners that their royalties, totaling more than K135 million, is also being held in trust and will only be released until after all court orders are cleared, ADR process and clan vetting completed.

However, businessman and PDL 1 leader, Larry Andagali, has asked if the 30-day plan can be reduced to just a week or two and the process sped up.

He also called for the ministers and managing directors to come back with bank printouts to confirm these monies are there.

From today onwards, they stand on their word that the project will remain closed.

(Locals in Hela Province during the arrival of the government delegation this morning.)

Ruth Rungula