COMPENSATION claims and blocking of roads by villagers and landowners have been outlawed by parliament yesterday, The National reports.
The enactment of the protection of transport infrastructure received overwhelming support from MPs, voting 62-0, to pass the bill yesterday.
Deputy Prime Minister Don Polye, in presenting the bill, said it was intended to protect infrastructure of all the three modes of transport in land, sea and air.
He said the bill would ensure all transport infrastructures were available to be used for national, provincial and local level transport and was free from encroachment, deliberate damage and excessive and unjustified compensation claims.
Polye said for many years, land used for transport infrastructure had been the subject of encroachment, blockades, trespass, deliberate damage and unjustified compensation claims for infrastructure, even where just and fair compensation had been paid to landowners.
“The cost of this is enormous, with some roads being encroached on, blockaded for extensive periods and/or made unusable by deliberate damage and unjustified additional compensation being paid to landowners amounting to millions of kina.
“The money used to repair transport infrastructure, which is deliberately damaged and paid out for unjustified additional compensation, can and should be used for other purposes including health care, education and building and maintaining much-needed transport infrastructure.”
Any person found guilty of putting up roadblocks, damaging infrastructure such as survey pegs or markers, would be fined K100,000 or jailed for two years.
The more serious of this offence would invoked a fine of K1 million, or 10 years in jail.
Also, anyone who demanded compensation with the intention to extort would be fined K500,000 or face a five-year jail term.
Polye said service delivery and economic development had been hampered by such unruly behaviour for too long, and it was time for the government to get tough.
He said genuine claims and grievances would be addressed through the proper process.