Villagers go on rampage over boy's death
ANGRY landowners of Hides 4 PDL 7 have shut down the liquefied natural gas (LNG) conditioning plant following the death of a boy, The National reports.
The stop-work began on Saturday at 8am, a day after work resumed last Friday.
The first stop-work was over issues relating to their outstanding business development grants, memorandum of agreement funds and ministerial commitments.
Gigira Hides 4 Joint Venture chairman Erick Ayule, Hides Special Purpose Authority chairman Limson Mapiria, Hides 4 Landowners Umbrella Association chairman Chris Payabe and other Hides leaders confirmed the shut-down yesterday.
Mapiria said relatives of the deceased, whose age could not confirmed, said he was with two others who allegedly consumed a powder-like substance used for drill blast at a quarry site near Hides 4.
The boys were all taken to Mendi Hospital. One passed away and two are still at the hospital.
Hospital authorities could not determine the cause of death.
Mapiria said: "There was set procedures to follow in addressing such grievances but opportunists have taken advantage of the already volatile situation and stopped work on the project."
He said angry mobs, frustrated over various LNG-related matters, took advantage of the situation and looted the camp and chased CCJV and CPI-Clough workers.
Ayule said they did not physically harm the construction workers or destroy their equipment, but forced them to stop work and leave.
Relatives of the deceased had demanded compensation from CPI-Clough and CCJV for allegedly spilling the chemical which killed the boy.
Reports said the workers were airlifted to Mendi.
Meanwhile, Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru said he would travel to Mendi this week to wait for the government to find money to meet all outstanding commitments.
He also challenged the departments of commerce and industry and petroleum and energy to fix the mess created at the LNG project sites.
"My landowners will not be suppressed."
Agiru, however, refused to comment on CCJV's withdrawal of its workers, claiming that it had to do with workplace safety and health issues.
"This is the tip of the iceberg of problems associated with a number of outstanding issues including seed capital, MoA and ministerial commitments."
Agiru said integrated landowner groups had not been formed and landowner identification was yet to take place.
"I sympathise with my landowners and developer ExxonMobil; and I want the Waigani public servants to go and solve the issue on the ground.
"I am not going to go and correct somebody's mistake. They have to leave their comfort zones in Waigani to fix their own problems."