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Lomlom airport body dismisses claims by self-claim LO

Ngaube Land Owners Association (NLOA) has dismissed claims by Mathew Mengo published in this paper yesterday.

Mr Mengo, in an article yesterday, claimed that some of the land owners of Lomlom airport in the Reef Islands have never received any payment from the $6million the government intended for land owners.

But the Chairman of the airport’s land owning body, Alec Bonunga said the figures Mr Mengo’s made in the article are grossly misleading, and carry serious allegations.

According to Mr Mengo, 47 land owners are only aware of receiving $2,500 each from the first payment worth around $1.7 million for Goodwill.

Mr Mengo also alleged that a second payment of $3.5 million for environmental damage and ground extraction plus $296,000 for ground breaking which never happened till now are the payments that landowners are still questioning.

He added that annual rental of $40,000 which the government agreed upon sealing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the government is also missing.

But, Mr Bonunga out rightly denies any six million payment made by the government.

“Simple math summaries that this man is nothing from knowing what he is talking about. He is not even a land owner.

He said as a registered body that liaise with the provincial and national government, they have received 1.7 million in 2011 which is for payments such as damage to crops, access which followed prior valuation by agriculture team.

“In 2014 we forward submission for claims and on Christmas Eve in 2015 the government released the $3.5 million. Currently, the government pays an annual lease of $40,000. The amount is taxed and payment reaching land owners normally stands at $36 annually,” Mr Bonunga explained.

The calculation of the amounts above however, falls below the $6 million claimed by Mr Mengo.

Mr Bonunga said there are 41 land owners of the plots of land acquired by the government, and not 47 as claimed by Mengo.

“We have all the records and we are only dealing with the 41 genuine land owners, not this self-claim land owner who just stood from nowhere, went to the media and spill out these baseless accusations.”

He said there are right venues and right process to channel complains.

“We have consulted all the genuine land owners during our meetings, this man shows no attendance during the meetings.

“We have nothing to hide from land owners, since government start paying land owners all the payments are accountant for. This is because the committee often meets to decide how much each should receive, and we always did public distribution of cash.

“We disperse money according to proper process,” Mr Bonunga reiterates.

Lomlom airstrip was built in 2013 and until now the airstrip is yet to officially open to take in flights, although islanders have question the government on why it continues to delay the opening of the airstrip.