By Bethanie Harriman – EM TV, Madang
People living in impacted areas where the proposed Pacific Marine Industrial Zone is going to be built, have demanded for production to stop.
They are driven by fears of environmental damage, as well as socioeconomic concerns. The concerns have support from several former politicians and academics.
Today, a local MP who has continued to stand against the idea, Sumkar’s Ken Fairweather, said he isn’t aware of the benefits it will bring to the people in terms of business opportunities. Fairweather says the government has to spell out exactly what spin off businesses the people will own when much of the workforce and material will come from China.
“The project is getting bigger, with many re-scoping done over the years, and the people are being left in the dark, while they stand to lose their whole livelihood,” he says. Sumkar MP Ken Fairweather also raised concerns about the environment around the 10 proposed canaries.
“When William Duma was Minister for Environment and Conservation, he signed the entire lagoon as a wildlife zone,” says Fairweather.
On May 4, a meeting was held at Riwo Village to discuss the project’s impact on the villages. The socioeconomic concerns include women going into prostitution, as well as the environmental damage to marine life.
To understand how important the environment is to the people around impacted areas of the PMIZ project, we spoke to Bernard Siroy, a local from a village that will be impacted by the project. Bernard and his wife use the lagoon to go fishing at night.
He said they catch fish for consumption and then sell them for an income.
“All this is going to happen if the government can tell us that they are going to protect our environment and our welfare,” says Bernard. Bernard’s concerns are similar to people of five other villages, who fear the loss of the quality of life they have around their oceans.