East New Britian Provincial Government should have done more, says Pomio Landowner

By Belinda Kora, PNGFM news

Serious allegations of biased dealings have been raised by Pomio Landowner representative, Norbert Pames, against the East New Britain Provincial Government and the Pomio District Administrator, Mr Pomaleu Lagisan, on its lack of action and concern over the land grabs that is currently occurring in the Pomio District.

Mr Pames is onboard the GreenPeace’s Esperanza when it berthed in Port Moresby ...yesterday. Mr Pames, who is representing landowners in the Ralopal and Pomata concessions, said they have written 5 letters already to the District Administrator, Mr Pomaleu Lagisan to intervene and deal with the issue of confrontation between landowners in the District, but there has been no word from those in authority.

Mr Pames confirmed that in their last petition to the District Administrator, they had asked that the operations of Gilford Limited cease, pending the findings of the SABL inquiry and a meditation round table be convened between them and Gilford Limited, but this was ignored, even bringing the issue to court in Kokopo, could take longer then expected for a result, which led to their call on Greenpeace to assist them.

In their petition, this was signed by 14 Individuals on behalf of the landowners in Pomio District also called on the District Administrator to present the land investigation report and the Lease-leader back agreement for purposes of verifying the land boundaries and the respective landowners. It also asked him NOT TO BE involved with the logging company or any particular group of landowners but to remain neutral and fair with respect to the ongoing disputes.

When asked about the opposition on the issue of land grabbing by other landowners in the area and use of force and attacks by Police Officers when Greenpeace arrived in the area recently, Mr Pames, says these disputes are the very reflection of the lack of control and concern by Provincial and District Leaders, which has forced people like himself to call on Greenpeace for Help.

Green Peace’s Ship Ezperanza arrived in Port Moresby yesterday after 4 days in West Pomio District. Spokesperson onboard the ship, after being questioned about customs breaches, brushed aside the talk of breaches and confirmed that they are still awaiting customs to clarify to them, which provision exactly was breached when they entered Pomio Waters. Furthermore, Greenpeace campaigners have sighted serious abuse of human rights and police brutality whilst in Pomio, with the involvement of Police on ground. These scenes have been photographed and documented. There was a scene of a 12 year old in bed waking up to a M16 to his forehead.

Green Peace is now appealing to Prime Minister, Peter O'Niell to suspend the Forest Clearing Authorities until all the recommendations made by the COI are implemented and campaigners are also asking that all fraudulent and inappropriate SABL’s or lease-lease back schemes be overturned.

Meanwhile, Guilford Limited is a subsidiary of the Malaysian-owned logging giant Rimbunan Hijau and RH has condemned the protest, saying the palm oil project has the support of the majority of landowners in the area.