Wednesday 22nd February, 2012
Papa LOs seize barge in waters
By PATRICK TALU
AGGRIEVED PAPA villagers in Central Province yesterday seized a fully laden barge which had intruded into their traditional fishing grounds at Caution Bay, west of Port Moresby.
The villagers, who live within the proximity of the LNG Plant at Portion 152, are demanding explanations as to how their fishing grounds has become an international seaport.
The angry villagers claimed they were never consulted by the National Government, PNG Ports Corporation or the developer ExxonMobil over the use of their seafront.
Papa leaders Solomon Damena and Pastor Joseph Baeau said the barge had breached their traditional fishing grounds and they had a right to hold it and ask questions as landowners.
The barge is owned by Australian sub-contractor Balm Clough, which was starting to build a navigational aid facility on the water near the PNG LNG Project’s plant site at the Caution Bay, the seafront of Papa Village.
Mr Damena said his people ordered all Balm Clough workers off except for three security personnel.
He said that villagers were confused as to how the area was acquired.
He said ExxonMobil and PNG Port Corporation have to tell the villagers how the sea area was acquired before they proceed with any construction.
“We have never been consulted either by ExxonMobil or PNG Port about this project. We have got no idea how this has happened. Just two weeks ago when we want to check up with PNG Port, they avoided us but ExxonMobil when asked has admitted that they there was no consultation between us on this project,” Mr Baeau said.
“We were taken by surprise when we learned that there was a huge barge pulling out to the sea near our water front.
“We were not aware of any construction of any navigational aid or whatsoever,” Pr Baeau said.
The leaders said they only learned from a special edition of an internal Plant Site Worker Bulletin by EPC contractor Chiyoda JGG Joint Venture (CJJV) where it indicated to clarify some issues relating to this project.
The edition in which a copy this paper sighted read “Has Caution Bay been declared an international port? Yes, Caution Bay was declared an extension of the port of Port Moresby on the 18th July 2010 (Papua New Guinea National Gazette no. G188) by PNG Ports Corporation under the jurisdiction of the PNG Department of Transport.
However, the villagers said all these arrangements were done with their consent.
“We will not leave this place until and unless the Government through PNG Ports and other stakeholders especially ExxonMobil come to us and tell us how they have acquired our traditional fishing area,” Mr Baeau said.
LNG critique Simon Ekanda threw his support behind the Papa villagers saying, “it was an intrusion into private and traditional fishing area and the concerned parties must come out clear as to how they have acquired the area’.
Late yesterday, PNG Ports officials said they were in discussion with the aggrieved leaders to solve the matter.