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17 June 2018

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Keith, I may be wrong but I think that Michael Main would be referring to the Komo airstrip not Moro as thought by Peter.

Komo a purpose built airstrip to receive the largest freighters in the world flying in equipment for the LNG project infrastructure in the area mainly the Hides Gas conditioning plant, the Antonov 124-100, 69.1 metres long, 73.3 metres wide, etcetera.

There was a humorous story running around many years ago that during negotiations with the Komo people over a totally unrelated matter well before the time of the LNG project, that the people as part of their initial ambit claim, demanded that an international airport be built at Komo.

They were told that no way in the world would an International airport ever be built at Komo.

Google "Komo airport pictures" it's an eye opener.

I have just realised Mr Main might have been referring to Komo Airstrip in which case my initial remarks in my earlier piece were incorrect. I can but blame senility if that is the case and apologies all round.

I assume the airport Mr Main refers to is Moro airstrip adjacent to Lake Kutubu. Anyone, apart possibly from a rabid imperialistic minded Huli, would try to tell the world that the land comes under the purview of Huli traditional ownership mores.

The Foe and Fasu people would be extremely upset about such a comment.

Whilst not disputing the general tenor of Main's proposition, both Chevron and ExxonMobil as well as Oil Search made it quite clear in all their publications of the approximate manpower requirements of the various stages of exploration, construction and development and production.

These were explained to local and provincial government representative, and also to landowners, at least in the early stages by what became known as Landowner and Community Relations Officers who were based first in the Kikori, Pimaga and Kaipu area and later at Mendi and Kerema.

These officers were, therefore much closer to the landowners at that stage than later in the project when the Kerema and Mendi offices and the other camps were abandoned with staff moving behind the security fence at the main Moro and Ridge Camps.

The poorly thought out management decision which resulted in the movement of all community affairs staff behind the Moro and Ridge Camp security fences resulted in less meaningful contact between the developers' reps and landowners and provincial and local level authorities in the field and also paved the way for shysters and cardsharps to represent themselves to developers' reps in Moresby as representing landowners.

Many things about this project have been criticised and for very good reason, not the least being the national government's lack of understanding of the ramifications of its constitutional role and the rather novel situation of having said government being a shareholder in an industry that it is supposed to regulate.

I have heard nothing, however about the LACROs being brought onto the other side of the fence and, if the comments of the latest flare-up in Mendi in relation to electoral matters are anything to go by, the old field administration adage of setting yourself down in the middle of the problem and talking to both sides, preferably before a spark becomes a bushfire, still has it's place in PNG.

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