23 Mar 2011

Landowner in PNG threatens to shut water supply over land issue

6:55 pm on 23 March 2011

The owners of the land housing Kavieng Airport in Papua New Guinea's New Ireland Province are threatening to shut off the town's water supply if the government doesn't pay compensation for acquiring the land.

The landowners from Omo forced the closure of the airport last week and are refusing to allow it to reopen until they're paid for the use of the land.

The principal landowner, Epel Tito, says the government has not paid anything since it acquired the airport in 1991 and says further action will be taken if there's no response within a month.

"I'm going to close down the water supply because it's on my land, my people's land. I'm standing up for my people's rights here. I'm standing for justice. It's not a question of money. Money is secondary."

Epel Tito says as part of a separate land issue, he claims the government owes landowners more than 1.7 million US dollars for the acquisition of 440 hectares of land over 20 years ago.