The Minister for Mining Hon. Johnson Tuke has condemned the actions of a few disgruntled Hela citizens who have seen fit to destroy three power pylons that belong to the Porgera Gold Mine in Enga Province.
Minister Tuke said he was notified of the alleged destruction by the Huli landowners from Hiwa area where Hides 2 Gas Plant is located.
“There are a total of 221 power pylons erected from Hides 2 Gas Plant in Hela Province to the Porgera Gold Mine in Enga Province, and three of these crucial structures have been irresponsibly and without due care or consideration for the mine’s operations been pulled down,” he said.
“This is the sad message I have received in a brief presented to me by the Mineral Resources Authority Managing Director Mr Jerry Garry, and I am at a loss for words as to why our people continue to destroy any form of expensive infrastructure development that has been given to us on a golden plate, even without care for their own safety and lives,” said Minister Tuke.
The Minister said the power pylons were downed just before the Warden’s Hearing at Porgera on the 2nd and 3rd of April, this month apparently over non-payment for the land on which the power pylons sit.
“It has been established that a particular landowner who accommodates pylon 11.2 missed his Incentive & Security Payment for March 2019 and decided to destroy this pylon.”
“The perpetrator has been caught and is now behind bars at Tari Police Station while another six men who destroyed pylons 14.1 and 14.2 have all been identified and will be arrested soon by Police on the ground,” said Minister Tuke.
There are actually two modes of payment; firstly, the Occupancy Payment which is done on an annual basis through landowner agents to all corridors where the power pylons are located and the person that has a larger portion of the land mass gets a bigger share of the money than the ones that own small portions.
Secondly, there is the Incentive & Security Payment which is done twice a year in March and September and is paid directly to the landowners or their agents for the power pylons that are on their land portions.
The company pays an average amount of K1, 500 in cash per pylon on a six-monthly basis and it has been doing so since 1990 until it missed its March 2019 one.
A visibly concerned minister said that he wanted destruction of infrastructure to stop immediately as it had become a festering ulcer not only in Tari but also in other parts of the country where very important projects are established for the good of everybody.
“I am being told that this happens all the time when the landowners do not receive their payments,” he said.
“As the minister responsible for the Mining Industry, I cannot allow things like this to remain unattended to because our people, the landowners,are important in the mining locality just as the landowners who are located in the service corridors and allow development into our mining areas,” the minister explained.
Minister Tuke has asked that Barrick PJV, under Easement 1, manage this responsibility immediately and set in place strict timely payments so that in future none of this will happen again.
“The landowners are very important in this equation and if we have to pay them, please let’s do it on time to avoid unnecessary destruction, and landowners please do not resort to such actions without trying to exhaust all the avenues available to sort out your problems,” said Minister Tuke.