The first shipment of gas from the multi-billion kina Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project will soon be exported out from the shores of Papa and Lea-Lea villages just outside of Port Moresby.
The developer, Esso Highlands, and the Government have high expectations of the shipments, which will generate millions of kina for the country.
However, the local people living along the coastline where the LNG plant site is located, are concerned about some of the empty promises they have heard, and immediate effects they are experiencing.
Situated about 20 kilometres northwest of Port Moresby, is this LNG processing plant site. This processing plant lease area occupies 2, 600 hectares of land and sea, and is the biggest investment sitting on the land of Papa and Lea-Lea villages.
Production has commenced, and ships are berthing at the 2.4 Kilometre long marine jetty, loading the liquefied gas for shipment to international markets. While this is going on, the local people are starting to experience changes in their normal way of living.
We spoke to a man from East Sepik who is married to a local woman, and has been living a few hundred metres away from the perimeter security fence.
He told us that the sound and flames coming from the burning gas is too noisy, and has increased the surrounding temperatures causing the environment to become too hot.
Similar complaints were also raised by a retired Customs Officer and a village magistrate from Lea-Lea village.
The people said the company has restricted them to fish in their traditional fishing areas, resulting in many of their skilled fishermen now earning less money than they used to earn before.
Despite the multi-billion kina project sitting on their soil, the villagers claimed that there is nothing tangible happening in their villages.
They also raised concerns about some of the promises yet to be fulfilled by the Government, including land compensation and royalty payments.
The travelling public are complaining about the state of the road and the huge potholes at the turnoff at the LNG Plant Site, leading into Papa, Bogi and Lea-lea villages.
They are also concerned about the increasing social problems in their communities.
People’s attitude towards alcohol consumption and marriage problems have changed.
A few kilometres west of Lea-Lea, is Kido village. Situated inside the Redscar bay, people from Kido are also feeling the impact of social and environmental problems.
Though this village is a few hundred metres outside the LNG impact zone, the villagers said since the beginning of this month, they started seeing dead fish floating on the sea. The cause of this is still unknown.
The strong easterly wind, locally known as Laurabada, is blowing the fumes from the burning gas towards this village. The big LNG tankers are anchoring outside the coastline of Kido village awaiting their turns.
However, this village is being marked outside the impacted boundary.
Though they are eligible to benefit from the royalties of the underwater pipeline, they are concerned that in future, they may fall victims to gas fumes and oil spills from the ships.
The LNG export will soon be leaving the shores of these coastal villages, and in return, billions of kina will be generated for the country.
However, the concern for the local people in these coastal villages is for the Government to start fulfilling its promises, and address social and environmental problems.
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