PMIZ MAKE SLAVES OF LOCALS

Madang Sunrise ; Photo Credit Jan Messersmith
by MARINA WAITA
PMIZ promises spin-off business for landowners but would not allow locals to participate.
When one talks of project development, three major parties are involved; the investors, the government and the landowners. 

There would be consultation and understanding before any agreement is signed, finalized and launched before operations begin. But has this been the trend here in Papua New Guinea?
For the case of Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ) in Madang Province, the answer is a big NO. There has never been proper consultation between the National Government and investors with the landowners of the Vidar site where the PMIZ project is located.

The landowner’s constant struggles to make the government understand that they do not want the project seem to be falling on deaf ears. As they continue to raise concerns for the environment, potential creation of social problems and lack of real benefit in regards to the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone Project the government had completely overlook their concerns.

The government has shown total disregard of the people’s plight. To exercise their control over the project, they had engaged police officers to abuse the people’s rights.
This abuse of power and violation of human rights continues to prevail. Locals near the blue fence surrounding the project site and the principle landowners – the Seg Clan – people of Kananam village live with fear of these police officers.

Monday 9th, November 2015 was an explicit example of abuse of power and people. Merelyn Kasa, a young woman from the Seg clan and two other women were abused by the PMIZ police officers. According to Merelyn they were selling soft drinks amongst other things at the road junction into the PMIZ site when this happened. She said when the police officers came they ordered the women to quickly remove their market things. According to Merelyn the officer said, “em no hap blong yupla long market” (This is not your market place). The women quickly started taking off their market goods, but the officer pulled out a wood from Merelyn’s table and smashed her cooler box with all the drinks to the ground. He then went to the two other women and did the same. He also kicked their cooler boxes. 

The three women tried to explain that there was an understanding between locals and RD Tuna that this place can be used as a market place. The officer then told them that this area does not belong to RD Cannery but the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone.

Before RD Tuna came and establish in Madang, women around that area make around K300 before per day from their fish sales. It was a happier time back then, their local economic activity was striving. However, people’s privilege was taken from them when RD came. RD forced and cheated them to work for long hours for a much lesser income. RD destroyed their traditional fishing grounds with their waste disposal, making it impossible for women to catch fish to sell and make money as before.
The injustice done to them is beyond comprehension. 

Their land was skillfully stolen from them by the cunning missionaries then the title passed around by manipulators, their environment damaged by a selfish corporation that has no concern whatsoever on how that would affect people’s livelihood. Women and young girls were then forced into prostitution just to support their money.

Today, PMIZ promises spin-off business for landowners but would not allow locals to participate. If these women were forcefully stops to sell things there just to make a living, what would become of them? What is their future now?

According to Merely, the money they make from the informal market contributes to their source of income. “Where will we go if they keep pushing us away from our own traditional land and fishing area, she said.”
“I’m sadden by this, she said.”

Jerome Tuaken who is from the same area that he was also beat up by the same famous PMIZ police. He said today they could not move freely. He said there were others who received the same treatment as he did.
Like slaves they are being forced off their traditional land. There are now prevented to make a decent living, their traditional fishing and grading area are out of their reach. 

Promises of participation turn out to be a scheme and their concern for their environment and their very lives overlooked. Even before the establishment of the project, it does not look good for the landowners.
Put simple, PMIZ is making slaves off the landowners.

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