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Kokoda Track blocked in landowner protest

Kokoda Track blocked in landowner protest
February 7, 2018

Landowners on part of the Kokoda Track say they will stop tourists from undertaking the famous walk in a dispute with the Papua New Guinea Government.

The landowners want the PNG Government to review the Kokoda Initiative, a joint funding agreement with Australia, and give them money it promised for certain projects.

Concerned that the current arrangement is not translating into benefits for landowners they have blocked the access road to the start of the track at Owers Corner.

Spokesman James Enage said the group was protesting because PNG Government funding was not translating into benefits for landowners.

Enage told the ABC “parents here are struggling for school fees.

"In some of the health centres that are built along the Kokoda Track there are no health workers, there is no medicine."

Enage said the landowner group had presented the Government with a list of recommendations that needed to be acted upon before the blockade would be lifted, adding “until the Government provides a response that addresses those and until the current Government comes and talks to us and we all reach an amicable solution, then this will reopen.

Enage was formerly the Chief Executive of the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA), the management agency which oversees trekking company licences and trekker permits.

The PNG Government recently announced it was reviewing the KTA, after sustained criticism from tour operators about poor management of the track and trekking.

However, Enage denied the landowner action was linked to that, stating “the (KTA) review is actually a separate issue altogether.”

PNG Tourism Promotion Authority Chief Executive Jerry Agus said he was confident the blockade would be lifted before the start of the trekking season, in March.

Agus advised “this is an issue that PNG Government agencies will deal with and we are hoping that we can sort this issue out very quickly.”

Kokoda Tour Operators Association President Sue Fitcher agreed, concluding “our information is that key stakeholders and government agencies are working with landowners to resolve their concerns.

"Our overall concern is protecting and presenting this unique place and its people to the world at the highest possible standards."

29th March 2017 - QUEENSLAND AND PNG RANGERS WORK TOGETHER ON HISTORIC KOKODA TRACK

28th July 2016 - INDIGENOUS RANGERS LOBBY FOR MORE POSITIONS 

31st July 2015 - PACIFIC TOURISM SEES INCREASE IN VISITOR ARRIVALS

22nd April 2015 - WORLD’S PROTECTED NATURAL AREAS RECEIVE EIGHT BILLION VISITS A YEAR

20th November 2014  - IUCN SUMMIT DELIVERS MAJOR COMMITMENTS TO SAVE EARTH’S MOST PRECIOUS NATURAL AREAS 

12th October 2009 - KOKODA TREKKERS ‘SHOULD PASS FITNESS TESTS’

8th May 2009 - KOKODA TRAIL CLOSED BY PROTESTORS 


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