Saturday, April 23, 2011

Watut Union Refuted Comments.

 By: Watut Reporter

The Union of Watut River Communities (UoWRC) Association Incorporated President Mr Reuben Mete has refuted the statement made by the Burum Kuat and Wampar LLG President Dick Iwong and Peter Namus respectively as baseless. Mr Mete made this known in a statement yesterday saying that the early media reports made during the public forum to air the communities grievances due to continuous ignorance of political leaders and Government Authorities has substantial facts to support it due to long overdue outstanding commitments made by the Morobe Provincial Governor Luther Wenge and that the issues concern is of a life or death situation that going to also affects the future generation of the concern communities. He further challenge Mr Namus that the Watut River pollution issue is a national issue and not just for the Watut Communities as precedence is needed to be set in Papua New Guinea when it comes to the Environmental Destruction by foreign companies operating in Papua New Guinea and what was being said at the Forum related to the Issues – Hidden Valley Mining causing Environmental Damage to Watut River; is to be accepted by the concern leaders.
Mr Mete emphases on into the commons saying which stated as ‘Absolute Power Corrupt Absolutely’ and further   elaborate that leaders of Morobe Province should not only make public commitments but they should also implement them. It is their own failure that has leads to concern community leaders calling them with names. Mr Wenge was making commitments to the Watut River Communities since 29th November 2009 in a UoWRC Forum held in Kapin, Middle Watut and later again on the 21st January 2010 in Markham Bridge saying that Morobe Provincial Government would fund scientist at around K100, 000.00 to study Watut River and also would be ready to pay the court bills for the Court against the Hidden Valley mining operated by the Australia’s Newcrest Mining and South Africa’s Harmony Gold which to this date was still outstanding.
Mr Mete further stress that the Impact statements and the Environment Statements by Hidden Valley Mine are  crucial in the case of the Watut River Communities, where sediment levels and no doubt high levels of acid forming material have been allowed to flood and inundate the floodplains of the lower Watut. The people in these areas fall outside the mine impact area and therefore receive no compensation for the damage done to their native environment. The developer in the first instance said this was not possible as their environment impact models don't show the phenomenon as possible. They have since fallen silent on that line because their experts have been proven to be wrong, as all the other experts have been in other resource projects in PNG, and have left the onus of proof to be the responsibility of the peoples along the Watut River and the Bulolo District JDBPPC. All except the people have followed the dollar signs offered by the developer and so it is now up to the people to take the fight to the developer.
Dr Wari Iamo, Sasa Zibe and Luther Wenge should be held to account for this mess and Hidden Valley should be shut till the matter is mutually resolved with all the peoples that will be affected/ impacted by the project. The developer should show why they got it so wrong and compensate those impacted appropriately.
Attachments 1
Thursday 11th February, 2010
Scientist to study river systems
MOROBE Governor Luther Wenge announced yesterday that a scientist will be engaged to study the Markham and Watut river systems for any pollution by mining activities upstream.
Governor Wenge said the Provincial Executive Council (PEC) met last Friday and approved K100,000 for a scientist to study the composition of the Markham and Watut rivers where all waste from the mine is discharged into the two rivers by the Morobe Mining Joint Venture (MMJV) at Hidden Valley.
He said the scientist will collect samples from the two rivers to identify any substance of danger that poses threat to life for people living along there and those who come into contact with the two rivers. He said this has come about after he made a commitment to villagers at Markham bridge and also villagers at Mumeng to bring a scientist to study the amount of substance concentration in the two rivers.
Mr Wenge did not verify if the specialist will be a national or an expatriate, citing that it was up to the provincial administrator who was the Provincial Supply and Tenders Board (PSTB) chairman.
He said the applicants will have to bid through the PSTB when tenders are put out and will undergo a screening process before they could be engaged in investigating the amount of pollution in the two rivers.
Meanwhile, he also urged women at the markets throughout Lae city and the province to prepare food and water sold at the markets through safe and healthy food preparation practices.
He said with cholera still around, mothers should be mindful of their food preparation habits and make sure the food sold to their customers were prepared using clean water sources.
He also appealed to the customers to make sure they follow simple rules in washing their hands before they eat their food.
Mr Wenge said he understood the economic burdens brought on by the start of the academic year and did not want to stop women, who were trying to make ends meet to feed their families and pay their children’s school fees.
He said he did not want to take these opportunities away from the women and urged them to be responsible for the products they sold.
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Attachment 2
Thursday 10th February, 2011
Morobe sets to discuss mining issues through forum
PREPARATIONS are well underway to stage a Morobe Mining Forum in Lae later this month to discuss mining issues affecting the province.
The forum is organised by the Morobe provincial government and is planned to be staged at the PNG University of Technology’s Duncanson Hall.
Morobe MPs including Governor Luther Wenge, government officials, mining officials, company executives, local community members, leaders, scientific organisations and stakeholders will participate.
The purpose of the forum is to gauge views by way of debating and discussing issues concerning mining operations in the province.
Many issues have been raised currently on the operations undertaken by Morobe Mining Joint Venture (MMJV) by affected communities with their outspoken Bulolo MP Sam Basil.
Huon Gulf MP and Minister for Health Sasa Zibe said yesterday that all Morobean MPs, local leaders and interested parties should come together and debate issues ranging from landowners, conservation and environment and benefit sharing agreement.
Mr Zibe said other issues in relation to mining practices employed by developers, regulations and legal frame work would also be discussed at the forum.
“The outcome of this forum is to bring all known and perceived problems and issues to the table and encourage mediation process between all parties through which solutions would be found that concern local landowners, national and provincial government and the developer,” Mr Zibe said.
He added that he decided to propose the forum because he believed that there were workable partnership with investors rather than going through court battles.
“Morobe people and leaders must stand together on this issue. Mining is here to stay but we as a province must lay the ground rules for companies to come and operate,” the minister said.
Mr Zibe said that his people were set to be affected once the Wafi mining which shares the electorate with Bulolo electorate operates.
The minister said he was hopeful that amicable solutions would be found for current dispute between all parties involved in the Morobe Mining Joint Venture (MMJV) through mediation after the debate and forum.
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