KEITH JACKSON | Pacific Media Centre | EMTV | Sources
HELA - Komo international airport landowners in Hela have given the Papua New Guinea government a last warning and said it must stop making excuses and compensate the 16 clans whose land the airport occupies.
The massive Komo airport was built by ExxonMobil to facilitate the development and operation of the PNG LNG project, although at the time prime minister Peter O’Neill also promoted it as benefiting “people in Hela Province and through the Highlands region through increased business opportunities and greater peace of mind when faced with potential natural disasters”.
It was said ExxonMobil would “continue to own and operate the Komo airfield” which was “open to additional support facilities being constructed outside the current grounds”.
But all this was to occur with approval of traditional landowners and significant compensation and other payments to them.
Landowners’ spokesman John Pipija said that for eight years three agreements had been signed but the landowners had still not been compensated.
Komo airport was closed by landowners in May after the government failed to respond to a petition.
Komo landowners’ chairman, Michael Tiki, urged the government to respond to the petition or the closure of the airfield would be permanent.
“We have given the government ample time but they haven’t responded,” he said.
Chairman of the Undupi Telia clan, Paranda Uripako, shared similar sentiments, calling on the government to listen to landowners.
“We want the government to respond to our petition quickly and don’t want to be deceived again.”