18 Sep 2004

Bougainville's Buka airport re-opened after landowner protest

8:37 am on 18 September 2004

The airport at Buka in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville is open again, after being closed for 24 hours by a group of angry landowners, earlier in the week.

The Post Courier newspaper reported that the landowners wanted US$5 million US dollars in support of various claims against the provisional Bougainville government.

However a senior Bougainville official said he was only aware of a claim for US$200,000.

All Air Niugini and Air Link flights in and out of Buka were cancelled, after the landowner group placed chocks of wood over the airstrip.

The Inter-Government relations minister, Sir Peter Barter, said he was prepared to meet the landowners as soon as the airport was re-opened.

But Bougainville's deputy administrator, Patrick Koles says he's not yet aware of any meeting.

"That has actually not happened and I guess it will be a subject between Sir Peter Barter and our governor of the province. I haven't actually received any word as yet from Sir Peter."