Spokesman Richard Moni said their aim was to peacefully get the attention of Kavieng Open MP and National Treasurer, Ian Ling-Stuckey, who was flying out of the province yesterday morning.
Arriving at the airport they questioned Ling-Stuckey on their outstanding compensation payments for the upgrading of the airport extension.
The landowners said they did not get a favourable response from him.
The landowners’ grievance comes after a K3 million cheque presented to them on the 15th of July 2020 during the ground breaking of the Kavieng International Airport bounced back. The cheque was changed to K1 million and even that bounced back.
New Ireland Governor, Sir Julius Chan, after being briefed about the situation, said he was not surprised with the landowners’ reaction as he had demanded more from the National Government for his people to be compensated fairly.
“I did not agree with the groundbreaking of the Kavieng International Airport to go ahead unless the landowners were paid K10 million-plus on the 15th of July 2020. In fact, I put in writing to the aviation Minister and Prime Minister the sum of K15 million as compensation. That was my demand because our landowners deserve more from the National Government after being denied any land compensation for 10 years for the extension of the airport.
“However, certain landowner members decided to broker their own deal with the Kavieng Open MP and the Prime Minister for an initial payment of K3 million to be paid. I was caught out, so I respected their decision and I hope now they can see I have been fighting alongside them all along,” said Sir J.
The actual airport extension is 1.4km. The new piece of land extends towards Utu Secondary School. That decade-long compensation demand has been outstanding by the national government.
Sir J said the people have been cooperative and patient, waiting for 10 years. “How much more patience must the people have? Why is New Ireland being treated like this?”
The multimillion kina airport project is expected to be completed in July 2022. It is one of 27 impact projects promised by the State in 1995; 25 years ago, under the Lihir MOA that will add significant value and match the already newly constructed four-lane Kavavu Avenue from the airport to the waterfront, built solely by the New Ireland Government.
(Picture by Brendon Bauelua)