Landowners want payout

The frustrated landowners of Koiari, Central Province have demanded the government to payout K15 million it promised to pay this week.

The landowners in a show of frustration this morning blocked off the road leading to the Sirinumu dam and Rouna hydropower station, threats were issued to shut down water and electricity supply to the city, if the demand was not met.

The payout is the outstanding royalty payment of K15 million to Koiari’s four landowner companies, which was unsettled over several years.

This move was after a similar gathering that happened three weeks ago with Koiari landowners, Commerce Minister and Ministerial Taskforce Chairman for Koiari issues, Henry Amuli, and Member for Hiri-Koiari, Keith Iduhu, CEO for PNG Power Ltd Obed Baita and other dignitaries to address the grievances of the landowners, however no response after that.

It was since last night when landowners began cutting down trees to block the roads and stones to get the attention of the Government. About 19 roadblocks were set up before arriving at Rouna 2 Hydropower station.

Central Provincial Police Commander Superintendent, Laimo Asi, and NCD Police force were present to address the issue from escalating, after receiving a call at 2am on the disruptions along the Sogeri highway.

“What they want now is the authorities to come and talk to them about the promise that was made in regard to the K15 million outstanding royalty payment.  There is no movement of vehicles to and from Sogeri down to 17 Mile, only people walking on the road. If possible, the responsible authorities could come and address them so we clear this place up as well as the water and power supply,” said PPC Asi.

“I live close to the Dam, when we arrived at Rouna 2 they blocked it so we walked from Rouna 2. Plenty people are walking and they want to go to town. It is an hour to come down, it’s down the mountain so it’s okay, but heading up it will be tough,” said villager from Sogeri Dam, Olivia Max.

The Government in response, assured the landowners that Treasury has released a warrant of K5 million. Prime Minister James Marape made the announcement in Parliament today.

Central Sogeri Holdings Ltd chairman, Arua Salesoge when speaking on behalf of landowners and people of Koiari said they are aware there is only a warrant of K5 million being released to the Department of Commerce.

“This was confirmed by Chairman of Rouna yesterday, which has infuriated the landowners. Why should we fight too hard to get our own money?”

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