8 Aug 2006

PNG protestors shut down power station in eastern highlands

2:02 pm on 8 August 2006

Hundreds of angry protesters have occupied and shut down a power station in Papua New Guinea's Eastern Highlands causing power cuts in three of the country's provincial capitals.

The former landowners, demanding more benefits from the government and state-owned PNG Power for the power station site in the Arona Valley, occupied the hydro-electric station yesterday.

Dozens of police have been sent to the station but the government is hopeful negotiations can solve the dispute.

The State Enterprises Minister, Arthur Somare, says a government team will fly to the region today but only negotiate with the Arona Valley Development Authority.

He says the team won't negotiate with illegal occupiers of the station on what is now state-owned land below the Yonki dam.

PNG Power officials say power disruptions were caused across the region with load shedding and expensive diesel back-up power generation needed in Goroka, Madang and Lae.