Resource owners in West Pomio SABL say they have not benefited as claimed by RH

Picture taken at Rali Camp, Pomata, Pomio District

Resource owners in the West Pomio SABL areas have not benefited from logging and oil palm planting on their stolen land as claimed by Rimbunan Hijau.

The resource owners say a statement by RH Group Executive Director Ivan Lu published on 14th September 2017 is false and untrue.

“RH claims that 4000 locals have been employed in the SABL project in West Pomio; that is not true. The people who are benefiting from employment, working as labourers on the oil palm plantations are mainly outsiders; less than 200 local people are employed and less than 15 resource owners”.

“Where the K50 million figure, claimed by RH as spending on wages comes from is not known; maybe it is the total spent by RH in their logging and oil palm operation? People are still struggling to build better houses and many earn as little as K5 to K10 per pay day”.

 “We have been made to become slaves on our own land”, claims Paul Pavol.

“But, unlike before, we are now all standing together and we will voice our rights to our lost land and resources. Enough is enough”.

The landowners also deny RH claims that they have been paid their royalties and levies. They say, this again is part of RH’s false propaganda.

They also say the 1000km of roads have been built are mainly for the benefit of company operations and they have not seen RH assisting to build any schools or aid posts.

“We are challenge RH to name any of the schools or aid posts they have build or say where they have constructed a permanent steel or a cement bridge”, said one landowner representative.

“Memalo Holdings, the so called ‘landowner company’ that says it represents us, is cheating the people of West Pomio. It does not represent anyone in the Pomata and the Ralopal Concessions. It is a company operated by middle men who oppose land owners who try to stand up for their rights on their land currently under SABL.”

“The company is enjoying the profit it makes stealing from us and the government is also enjoying the revenue it receives while we the resource owners are still crying for our land, environment and our future”. 

Landowners in the area claim that the East New Britain Provincial Government has also turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to their cries for their land over the last 6 or 7 years.

“We want to participate in development that does not steal away our rights from us. Oil palm planted on 14, 000 hectares is truly on stolen land. How can anyone boast about business on stolen land. We the people of West Pomio have respect for others. We call on the government and the new Lands Minister to stick to their promise and return our land and save our future”, says Pavol.