The Mineral Resources Development Company (MRDC) is confident that landowners from the PNGLNG Pipeline segments will start to receive their long awaited benefits from the US$19 billion PNG LNG project before the year ends.

Mr Mano speaking to the clan chairmen’s of segment 4 & 5 after the successful completion of the account opening exercise last month in Moro, Kutubu.

Sixty nine year old Mr Telabe Babena from Hugu Clan, in Paua village Segment four , was elected through a election process in Moro, Southern Highlands province, facilitated by MRDC through the Electoral Commission of PNG.

The exercise saw twenty clan chairmen’s representing the 20 Major clans per the Ministerial Determination (G360 and G361) vote for the director on behalf of their people.

Mr Babena received 12 votes out of 20 to win by majority out of five candidates who stood for the election. The runner up being Morayu Sawea from the Yomati Clan, Kantabo village segment 5 who received 8 votes. Three out of the 5 candidates did not vote themselves, and instead opted to vote for the winner and runner up.

Upon being declared by Electoral commission representative, Mr. Kala Rawali, witnessed by the Managing Director for MRDC, Augustine Mano, the new director vowed to represent both the segments fairly. “We are all southern Highlanders, lets forget about our tribal boundaries and language differences. We are one people. We are pipeline landowners, we are all Kutubu’s. I will treat all our people fairly,” said Babena.

“I will do my best to take of my people in my four year term. If you do decide I am not fit to continue after that, then you have the power to remove me”, he said.

Three out of five candidates decided to vote someone else either then themselves. Babena thanked the four younger candidates for the challenge, but also for giving him the mandate to lead in the board by not voting themselves.

He urged MRDC to listen to their grievances, he asked that his people be treated fairly. School fee’s for our children is important and will be a priority for him.

Mr. Babena wants to learn from the lessons of the oil beneficiaries and lead better to make sure gas pipeline landowners see the benefits of the project at the ground level.MRDC Managing Director Augustine Mano was on hand to receive the director elect and congratulate him as well as all of the chairmen’s for the leadership they showed in seeing the MRDC team complete this process.

Mr Mano said “The pipeline is 400 kilometres, running from Hela, SHP and Gulf provinces. This was not an easy task in getting a director in place. We started in Kikori and now we are here. You all have shown great leadership by helping my team to bring us all together here today to achievement this outcome. The important thing is we want the people to see the benefits of the project”.

He assured the director elect and the 19 clan chairmen’s that the mistakes of the oil project in Kutubu and Moran will be fixed in the PNGLNG project.

“We will not repeat those mistakes. We have set a precedence with the plant site landowners to deliver services using the 30 per cent Community infrastructure Trust Fund (CITF). We will follow that through to deliver to the gas project areas”, said Mano.Mr Mano explained to the chairman’s that the board of the trust company will have to be set up first. There would be Four landowner directors representing segments one (1) to eight (8) which will also include the three provincial governors, Hela, SHP and Gulf provinces and secretary of the DPE.

“Once the board is complete, a chairman will be appointed by the board before benefits can finally go to the people”.

The first director representing Segment seven (7) (Kikori, Gulf province), Mr. Wauro Oumabe was elected in November last year. Mr Babena is the second director representing segments four (4) and five (5) in Kutubu. The remaining two directors will come out of segments one (1), two (2), three (3) in Hela province and segment six (6) in the Gobe area in Southern Highlands Province.

This is the third trust company under MRDC to go through this process of allowing beneficiaries to elect their directors, in a bid by MRDC to improve its governance process to allow for fair and transparent representation of project area beneficiaries.

Each landowner board member will serve for a period of four years at a time and go back for re-election at the end of their term.