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January 26, 2021
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Rabaul Port Closure Threat by Local Landowners

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The Indigenous Landowner Group of Rabaul town has issued a threat to close down all port operations at the Rabaul Harbour.

On Wednesday afternoon the landowners forced the closure of all port operations at Rabaul Harbour. After negotiations the with the East New Britain Provincial Administration it was later repoened.

The landowners are claiming 25 per cent equity from port operators has yet to be given to them.

At around 2PM Wednesday the ToWalingan, Tobobe-Ratagul, the traditional landowners of Rabaul town, fronted at the gates and placed traditional spears as a sign of no entry and welded the gates shut.

PNG Ports Corporation, East New Britain Port Services and others all came to a halt following the landowner’s action.

Police were called in to settle any hint of trouble.

Passengers bound for Buka, Kavieng and Pomio were standard; their travel was at the mercy of the landowners.

Amongst their list of demands was the removal of shipwrecks along the harbour, and a 25 per cent share in the operation of the ports, that includes landowner’s participation.

The demand was specifically given to East New Britain Ports Services, a locally owned shipping and stevedoring business.

But that demand was not met and, after a year of waiting, the landowners decided to forcefully stop all work at the port.

The protest was intervened by East New Britain’s Provincial Administrator, Wilson Matava, who negotiated with the landowners and allowed the port’s operation to continue.

The negotiations are continuing between port operators, the provincial government and the landowners.

An agreement is yet to be reached.

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