Villagers call on city leaders to explain graves dilemma

An Elevala village councillor says that meetings with the city officials and consultants of the road that is set to run through their traditional cemetery land were aggressive .

They were not consultative as was alluded to earlier this week by officials of the National Capital District Commission.

Cr David Davai  of the Elevala, Lahara area says that as the mandated leader he was very concerned at the way the consultations had been managed between the developers and the customary landowners.

In a media briefing today, councillors and villager leaders met with reporters at the cemetery lot opposite the Hagara Primary School to voice concerns over this issue.

Lohia Samuel,  a village spokesman,  says that he was disappointed at the manner in which contractors moved in to try to dig up the remaining plot that had been under dispute since villagers moved in to air worries on Monday (19th October).

The elders called on NCDC officials Temu Eli and Bernard Kipit and Associates officials to come forward as well as the NCD Governor Powes Parkop to clarify the contract agreement signed to allow the road works.

Legal advice is also being sought on the apparent gazettal of the road reserve 15 to 20 years ago for the affected area, the issue of compulsory acquisition and if payments have been made to the land owners of the impact area, as well as plans and specification of the proposed road projects.

Another main issue they want to clarify on will be the gravesite plans and proposed compensation and relocation plan.

Meantime, there are plans to also seek a restraining order against the work being carried out to dig up the remains on site until all these issues are clarified.

NCD Governor Powes Parkop would not comment on the issue, only advising PNG Loop that he would need to meet with his officials and  contractors before he would make a statement on this issue.

Work has stopped as villagers await a response from officials over the matter.

Julianna Waeda