Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Landowners cause a stir at Lamana

RESOURCE landowners from the multi-billion-kina PNG liquefied natural gas project areas yesterday clashed with security guards after they were denied entry into the umbrella company for LNG structure discussion in Lamana Hotel yesterday, The National reports.

The first commotion occurred at the hotel’s main gate after a drunk landowner was refused entry and the second was by a group of uninvited people demanding food in the hotel.

According to Esso Highlands Ltd, operator of the LNG project and a subsidiary of ExxonMobil Corporation, the meeting was for selected Hides landowners.

“Those invited were the chairmen and selected chief landowners to discuss how to structure the Hides Development Company which has been nominated to be the PNG LNG landowner umbrella company,” an Esso spokesman said.

“The landowners had mistaken the disbursements of the structure meeting for the business development grants distribution, resulting in the clashes,” he said.

Governor Anderson Agiru, when receiving the grants from the prime minister early last week, said the K60 million of business grants would be distributed to the different landowner companies and associations at the project sites and not in Port Moresby.

“The funds are seed capital for businesses and not memorandum of agreement funds to be misused,” he said.

Hotel staff told The National in the second incident, more than 20 landowners forced their way into the Balcony where the meeting was held and demanded food without meal cards.

The waitresses said they were intimidated, harassed and threatened by the landowners to be given meals.

“The angry landowners almost threw plates at us after we refused to serve them meals because they were not listed as guests.

“The rowdy and angry bunch of landowners swore at us and told us that ExxonMobil would never pay them any toea for their work so they should serve them meals,” a waitress said.

Another waitress said the landowners’ attitudes were unacceptable and that the waitresses were so humiliated by their actions.

“We have never experienced such attitudes and we were so frightened.

“Fortunately, security guards managed to control the situation,” she said.

However, security guards manning the main gates said the confrontation instigated by a drunk landowner was brought under control by policemen and women who were called in to help.

More than 100 men and women fronted the hotel entrance but they were refused entry as they were not invited for the meeting.

A few landowner groups claimed they had been sidelined in the structure discussion and left out in the meeting.

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