Locals sabotage flight operations into Momote

Flights to Momote airport were reportedly disrupted over the weekend after disgruntled locals from Pak Island, threatened an officer with the National Airport Corporation and removed his office keys.

Police in Manus told Loop PNG today, two men from the Rapatona LLG removed the office keys from Enock Kapet who is the safety officer, affecting flight operations into the airport because they were not happy with the awarding of the contract for the airport redevelopment.

Acting Provincial Police Commander, Senior Inspector David Yapu said the incident took place last Friday, March 31 which saw flights affected for three days.

“These men claimed that they are the land owners of Momote airport, where current re-development at the airport is taking place but have not benefited from the project.  They said they have raised their concerns with NAC and the Manus Provincial Administration but have not received any response from them.

“He was unable to control the flights coming to land at Momote airport, as he does not have keys to access his office and use necessary equipment to communicate and direct flights to land at the airport,” PPC Yapu said.

He said the keys were never returned and locks were changed on Monday this week. 

The Manus police boss said this is the second time landowners have confronted the Safety officer, an employee of NAC.  The first incident occurred last year, where he was also assaulted by the frustrated land owners.

The Momote Airport re-development is a National Government project funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) at the cost of K110 million and Yapu said people must appreciate and respect the project.

“The safety of the NAC officer at the airport is paramount, as he has a greater responsibility to control and direct the flights to land at the airport for the safety of the travelling passengers and the plane.

“Any land issues should be channelled through appropriate authorities to address and not to sabotage the project and get the law into their hands.

“The actions of these people sabotaging a National Government Project is illegal, unlawful and criminal in nature and they can be dealt with according to the law,” the PPC said.

Yapu also appealed to the landowners to work together and allow the project to continue to bring development to the people and the government of Manus Province.

(Loop PNG file picture of Momote airport.) 

Sally Pokiton