Oro Governor Gary Juffa has vowed to take legal action on behalf of people in the lower Musa area in Oro, following concerns raised over a logging company’s operations in the area since January this year.
In a statement Juffa gave via social media, Juffa said the provincial government did not endorse the company’s operations, and they would verify the processes the company went through to start operating in the area.
Barthemeus Gavida, a local and principal landowner in the area said, he had hoped that the company would bring development however he says they are clearing land areas, causing a lot of destruction.
Videos of the machines clearing the land was uploaded on Facebook, showing sago trees being felled by the company. Gavida said sago is an important crop for the people however it is being destroyed.
Gavida says, “That’s one of our food that we mainly depend on during dry seasons and when we have disasters, but right at the moment the sago’s are being destroyed and this is something that I didn’t want to take place.”
In 2018, people in the Collingwood bay area won a court battle against a logging company, and logging was stopped in the area.
Earlier this year, another company started clearing out land further north, in the Musa area.
In a response to concerns raised by the Musa people, Governor Juffa called for a stop to the project while the provincial government verifies the processes followed by the company, allowing them to operate.
Governor Juffa said, “It is happening because the department of forestry has failed and has allowed these type of characters, unsavory characters who should not be there. Who come in the pretext of agriculture… they are just logging company’s but we keep letting them in.”
Last month, Police Commissioner David Manning responded to Juffa’s call to stop police from protecting logging sites at the request of foreign logging companies.
Manning gave officers the directive for police to cease such operations.
According to posts by locals in the area, their gardens have been destroyed, the waterways dirtied, and people have to paddle past the logging site to access clean water.
Since Juffa’s call to stop operations, it is reported that they’ve stopped work while waiting for the provincial government to verify the processes the logging company followed to operate.
Governor Juffa said, “We will be reviewing how this company obtained the permit it claims it has, and the rights it claims it has… I will be doing this to make sure we stringently go through all the documentation that the company has, we’ve received from them that they claim gives them the right to be there.”
“…they are polluting our waterways and their threats to steal our timber is not taken lightly by us” Juffa added.
By Lucy Kopana – EMTV News – Lae