By EDDIE MOSES
THE STATE and developers of the PNG LNG Project have been strongly advised to attend a meeting scheduled for February 23rd at OilSearch's Nogoli Camp, to resolve outstanding issues raised by the Tuguba tribe, landowners of Hides PDL1 and PDL7.
Tribal Chiefs, in a strongly worded media release have warned that "unless and until the Tuguba tribe's position paper and landowner umbrella company issues for PDL1 and PDL7 are resolved, our land is not for sale and not accessible to any foreigner."
They also stressed that project security would not be guaranteed over the life of the project.
The media statement pinpoints landowner participation as pivotal to project security in so far as being custodians of the land under which the resource is found, and upon which the infrastructure for Gas processing will be built, there must be order amongst them.
Led by vocal leader, Simon Ekanda, the Chiefs and leaders from the 26 clans of the tribe reminded all stakeholders of the PNG LNG Project that they cannot water down the tribe's position. "Our land is our birthright and heritage. We will protect its boundaries and our prophetic Laitebo (Gas) without compromise. No Government, No foreigner will change our way of life and the boundaries of our land and its resources," the statement reads.
It further alleges that the leaders are still waiting to negotiate with the State and Developers before signing the LBBSA to give their consent for extraction of their Laitebo (Gas) from Mt.Gigira. They questioned how the Facilitator and Coordinator of the LBBSA negotiating team for Hides PDL1 & PDL7 can claim a purportedly signed agreement without their input.
"The Tuguba tribal leaders did not consent for anyone, any organization or institution to sign the LBBSA on their behalf, therefore, any agreement purportedly signed is illegal and void," the statement reads.
The statement claims that though the tribe's position paper, its preferred Landowner Umbrella Company and its Business Plan were submitted well before signing of the Gas Agreement in May 22nd, 2008, the State's negotiating team, on instructions, set them aside because the Business Plan identified major opportunities the Project Proponents refuse to relinquish to the government and the landowners.
They claim the Laws of the country were circumvented in the signing of the questionable agreements. "Frustrated Tuguba tribesmen blocked the Nogoli Camp at one stage during the LBBSA . Other such incidences occurred but the media personnel that were accommodated at the camp did not report on them. We now question the integrity of those particular reporters. It's a shame," Simon Ekanda stressed.