Landowners get leases cancelled

Source: The National

THE Northern government and the landowners of the Collingwood Bay area have cancelled two Special Agriculture Business Leases (SABL) through the National Court in Waigani.

Governor Gary Juffa announced that at a media conference in Port Moresby yesterday.

He did not elaborate on the court’s ruling but said Northern was the first province to be successful through the court of law in the cancellation of its SABLs.

He was full of praise for the landowners, who first took the matter to court to stop a foreign company from going ahead with its operation in their area. The provincial government then followed suit.

Juffa said his provincial government had set a precedent for other provincial governments.

He said provincial governments or MPs did not have to wait for the implementation of the recommendations in the SABL report from the inquiry.

“They can do it without having to wait. There’s nothing stopping MPs and provincial governments from going to court to cancel the SABLs. I encourage you.

In court you will have a fair hearing,” Juffa said.

“Our people have been fooled that SABL will benefit them. We’ve had irresponsible management of SABLs by the responsible agencies.”

Juffa said his government was not against development but would work with development companies that came through the proper and correct channels.

He strongly urged national leaders to protect their people’s land and resources, adding he had lost faith in government departments.

He told reporters the cancellation of the SABLs was the first step.

The next would be to find out how those SABLs were issued, who issued the leases and from which government agency.

“Since State agencies are failing to do their duties, it’s up to the people to protect their land.

“We’ve asked Collingwood Bay people what they wanted to do with their land and they told us they wanted to plant cocoa.”