Villagers fight with high powered guns over promised Frieda river mine benefits

The Frieda River project is 70kms south of the Sepik River on the border of the Sanduan and East Sepik Provinces of Papua New Guinea some 500kms upriver from the coast.

Clifford Fairparik | The National aka The Loggers Times | October 11, 2018

Fighting has broken out between villagers in East Sepik over customary boundaries to claim benefits from Frieda River mine, says provincial police commander Robert Gesa.

He said villagers from Timbunke and Korogu along the Sepik River fought with high-powered guns after arguing over customary land boundaries when learning that a team from Mineral Resources Authority was conducting awareness about the mine.

Gesa said a police taskforce has been deployed from Wewak was deployed to monitor the fight.

“The fight broke out after MRA officers had conducted awareness along the river communities from Ambunti district down the river to Murik Lakes at the river’s delta,” he said.

“From reports that I had received, fighting between Korogu and Timbunke villages was over the boundaries of their customary land.

“Disputes must have risen over the discussion of the registration of incorporated land groups on customary land.

“Awareness was such that there are benefits of having registered ILGs in order to benefit from spin-off business activities from the Frieda mine when it comes into operations.

“Disputes had risen over the demarcation of customary land when the villagers were using global positioning systems (GPS) to plot out their customary boundaries.

“I think arguments must have broken out over the GPS readings and the traditional knowledge of the land boundaries.

“The taskforce is still there and I have yet to get an updated report from them, but from initial report there have been no casualties.”

The mine is at Telefomin in West Sepik and borders Ambunti.

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Filed under Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

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