By GENO NAU-BUGA
THE GOVERNMENT must seriously address compensation demands by the customary landowners of the Tari before further developments associated with LNG project in Southern Highlands province take shape in the town.
Tari town mayor, Ken Arawi pointed this out recently following what he termed as 'outstanding demands' by the Tari "papagraun" to the government for the occupation of their land.
Mr Arawi said landowners from nine council wards in Tari urban council have submitted their demand for land compensation to the government but are still waiting for a response.
The nine council wards in Tari urban include Piripu, Papiali, Kikita 2, Tulupate, Tan 1, Tan 2, Kupari, Pai and Kikita 1.
Mr Arawi stated that Tari town would be the centre of all business activities as well as the host of major service facilities such as the airport, banks, hospital, educational institutions and even other major infrastructure.
However, with the issue of compensation demands by the landowners still to be addressed by the government, it poses a threat to the future.
"To avoid disruptions to services in Tari town, especially those associated with LNG, the government must seriously look into the matter regarding compensation to Tari town customary landowners," Mr Arawi said.
Mr Arawi clarified that although the local people from within the Tari area would not be immediate beneficiaries to the LNG project, their land is where the township is and where business activities would be concentrated.
He further stated that the argument by the local landowners of the Tari town land is that their fathers and forefathers were not properly compensated by the colonial administrators or government representatives during that era.
"People still argue that they be paid compensation for the land Tari town occupies," Mr Arawi said.
"They claimed their fathers and forefathers were paid with steel axes, pieces of cloth and salt, which in modern times are absolutely very less in monetary value," he added.
The mayor did not specify the amount demanded by the landowners.