16 Feb 2012

Approach to PNG landslide cleanup called insensitive

8:14 pm on 16 February 2012

A landowner in Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands says official efforts to clear the main road in Tumbi after last month's landslide have bordered on insensitive.

Disaster response workers this week began clearing the huge area of debris left by the landslide which buried at least 25 people.

Local landowners have expressed frustration that the work has begun before their demands for compensation and an independent probe into the disaster have been addressed.

A Hela landowner Joseph Warai claims that government officials are anxious that the road be clear to allow the Liquefied Natural Gas project operations in the area to proceed.

"How do you really approach this type of sensitivity? In a sense, yeah, people need to have access to the road, the project must go on, but at the same time there are 25 bodies and none of them have been recovered so we're talking about a whole sensitivity and then there are concerns and issues that must be addressed by all parties involved."

Joseph Warai

The Provincial Disaster official Martin Pat has said that his Crisis Management Team has been trying its best to respect sensitivities of the grieving local community.

However he says that people have been misled into thinking that the money allocated is for compensation.