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PNG landowners protesting over non-payment of their LNG royalties. Image: Loop PNG

By Freddy Mou in Port Moresby

More than 1000 villagers from Portion 152 where the Papua New Guinea LNG plant sits have gathered on site to protest over their overdue royalty payments.

Spokesperson and chairman of the Porebada Besena Association, Judah Matt Baru, said  they had not received any payment since the first shipment of LNG in 2014.

He said the government had promised repeatedly to pay its royalties but never kept its promises.

“We cannot sit and spectate on our own land. The government must come good with their promises or else we will shut the plant site for an indefinite period,” Baru said.

Baru said their petition was being given to the government but nothing had been done.

Meanwhile, police have been deployed to the site and are manning the entry gate.

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Protest condemned
The Provincial Police Commander for Central Province, Superintendent Laimo Asi, today condemned the protest.

Asi said no approval was given by authorities to stage the protest.

The commander, who was at earlier today, said he had warned landowners not to cause any damage to the plant site but to allow the operation to continue as normal.

He had advised them that the protest was illegal and while the landowners had been reluctant to back off, they promised to do it peacefully.

Asi said his men were on the ground to protect facilities and to ensure the protest did not turn rowdy.