Photo credit: Wafi Golpu Joint Venture
The landowners of the Wafi-Golpu mine have issued a 14-day ultimatum to the government to respond to their grievances regarding the Infrastructure Development Grant (IDG) for this year, in which the state has allocated K100 million to the impact areas in the vicinity of the mine.
The landowners, who arrived from Lae, have been in Port Moresby for over two weeks and are requesting that the state release the full component of their money to their landowner associations instead of giving it to the Morobe provincial government.
Speaking to the media on Thursday (2nd March) in Port Moresby, the aggrieved Wafi-Golpu landowners said the ultimatum was issued because previous IDG allocations since 2020 have not been put to its intended purposes of developing the project impacted areas.
The landowners’ representative, Mr John Nema, said the Wafi-Golpu IDG was used by the Provincial government for other districts’ development and the rightful landowners themselves have not benefited from these funds.
"We as the principal landowners of this multibillion kina mine that will support this country have not been given our IDG," he said.
"Our people are suffering, they are missing out on the government’s services. This project is going to develop this nation, it's going to pump big money into the governments system and will boost our economy, so who are the landowners going to get support from? Our government should be helping us, the landowners. We need this IDG now!" Mr Nema said.
Nema further stated: "We don't want the money from the IDG to go to the provincial government. As of Tuesday (28th February), we have given the government 14 days notice. This notice has been signed by all principal landowner associations of the Wafi Golpu mine, and the letter has been addressed to the Finance and planning Minister and copied to the Prime Minister, his Deputy, the Morobe Governor, our local MPs and the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA)".
"We are giving them a time period of 14 days to give us a positive response before we head back to Lae. All our local villagers are supportive and behind us in this matter and they have urged us to see that the government gives us the allocated funds from the IDG," he said.
"If there is no proper response from the government and it's respective agencies, then it is going to be a different scenario and situation when we go back to our villages," Nema warned.
He called on the government to ensure that they get a share of the K100 million to improve services lacking in their respective areas.
Meanwhile, Bulolo MP Sam Basil Junior has indicated that he has received a copy of the notice stating the ultimatum, and he is willing to assist the landowners where he can in his capacity as their local member.
"I am willing to help the landowners in handing the petition over to the government of the day to address and look into," Basil Junior said.