23 Apr 2007

PNG's famed Kokoda Track could be closed by protest ahead of ANZAC Day service

7:52 pm on 23 April 2007

The Kokoda Track authority in Papua New Guinea has warned the famous track could be closed due to a lack of budgetary support from the national government.

The authority says continual delays by government authorities to address demands from Kokoda landowners have forced their hand to carry out the threat.

The demands include a call for the government to make available the about 1.2 million US dollars that it has allocated for Kokoda track development.

The threat comes as several Australian dignitaries including veterans are in PNG for Wednesday's ANZAC dawn service on the Kokoda track.

The authority's deputy chairman Norris Selu says all they are asking for is 350 thousand US dollars per year for the next five years.

"We're taking the action into our own hands now. It is not a large amount. It is a enough to provide for the authority to exist and then [with ] the money that we generate internally with the track permit that we charge - two hundred kina per trekker to walk the track - that can go into projects until we are able to develop the track until we are able to develop that plan and then we will have an accurate figure of what we are looking at."

Deputy chairman of the Kokoda Track authority Norris Selu