The people of Turubu in East Sepik are still awaiting the development of the promised Oil Palm Project.
This was announced by Chairman of the Turubu Eco Forestry, Gabriel Molok, at the Oxfam International Press Conference in Port Moresby today.
Molok said, since the established of the Oil Palm six years ago, Turubu has only seen logging activities. At some stage, logging was conducted without the landowner’s approval, and under police presence.
The Turubu Oil Palm Project was initially established in 2009 by the Wewak Agricultural Development Limited, a subsidiary company to the Sepik Oil Palm Project Limited.
Land owners say there was not much development done towards the project. According to investigations conducted by Oxfam International, there is video evidence of logging activities in the area.
The lease was for a 99 year period, and covered an area of one hundred and sixteen thousand, eight hundred and forty hectares of land. This includes all of Turubu LLG, and part of the neighbouring Saussia area in the Yangoru Saussia District.
The project is five years old, but the question locals are asking is “How serious is WADL in the Oil Palm project?”This question comes after WADL has gone into logging activities, instead of building mills for Oil Palm project. Suspicious landowners said WADL was using money from logging to fund the Oil Palm project.
When WADL was asked why they have ventured into logging, the locals were told, logging was part of the clearing process for oil palm planting.
Based on the Oxfam International investigations, most locals were not properly advocated on the lease before signing the forms, six years ago. They claimed that despite the awareness, no feasibility studies were conducted.
There were also reports that locals were not allowed to work as chainsaw operators or fork lift drivers, despite having the required qualifications.