HUGU clan’s Telabe Babena has been elected a new director of the board of the trust company Gas Resources PNG LNG Pipeline Limited.
Babena, 69, was elected in Moro, Southern Highlands, during an election managed by Mineral Resources Development Company (MRDC) through the Electoral Commission. He is from Paua village, in Southern Highlands’ segment 4 of the PNG LNG Pipeline project.
The election involved 20 chairmen representing the 20 major clans.
“The pipeline is 400 kilometres, running from Hela, SHP and Gulf provinces,” MRDC managing director Augustine Mano.
“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 achieve this outcome.
“The important thing is we want the people to see the benefits of the project.”
Mano assured Babena and the 19 clan chairmen that the mistakes of the oil project in Kutubu and Moran will be fixed in the PNG LNG project.
“We will not repeat those mistakes,” he said.
“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.”
Mano explained that the board of the trust company will have to be set up first.
“There would be four landowner directors representing segments 1 to 8 which will also include the three provincial governors – Hela, Southern Highlands, Gulf – and the secretary of the Department of Petroleum and Energy.
“Once the board is complete, a chairman will be appointed by the board before benefits can finally go to the people.”
Babena is the second director elected. The first was Wauro Oumabe, representing segment 7 of Kikori, Gulf. He was elected last Nov.
The final two directors will come out of segments 1, 2, 3 in Hela, and segment 6 in the Gobe area, Southern Highlands.
This is the third trust company under MRDC to go through this process of allowing beneficiaries elect their directors, a move by MRDC to improve its governance processes to allow for fair and transparent representation of the project area beneficiaries.
Each landowner board member will serve for a period of four years.
Babena received 12 votes out of 20.
He said: “We are all Southern Highlanders, let’s 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.
“I will do my best to take care 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 urged MRDC to listen to their grievances and asked that his people be treated fairly.
“School fees for our children is important and will be a priority,” he said.