8 Aug 2006

Protesting PNG landowners end shut down of hydro-electric power station

7:44 pm on 8 August 2006

Hundreds of protesters who occupied and shut down a power station in PNG's Eastern Highlands have left the site, enabling power supplies to be restored across the region.

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 on Monday.

The State Enterprises Minister, Arthur Somare, says a government team has been holding talks with the development authority set up to look after the former landowners' interests.

Mr Somare says the government will not condone any more illegal shutdowns of the power plant.

The police will stay at the site to provide security for PNG Power workers and operations.

During the occupation power was disrupted across the region, with load shedding and expensive diesel back-up power generation needed in the cities of Goroka, Madang, Lae and Mt Hagen.