8 May 2009

PNG landowners shut down Kokoda track

12:30 pm on 8 May 2009

Papua New Guinea landowners have shut down the Kokoda Track over a raft of complaints, in particular against the track's Australian management team.

Koiari landowners have blocked the pass at Kovelo Village at the Kokoda end of the 96 kilometre track.

A spokesman for the landowners says they are not happy with the new Kokoda Track Authority board and are demanding money be paid immediately to local level governments.

He says walkers already on the track will be allowed to pass but no one will be allowed to start until their demands are met.

The Koiari landowners want the Authority to immediately release 75 per cent of their funds, or about 300,000 US dollars.

Last year, Koiari landowners briefly shut down the track during protests against the PNG and Australian governments which were opposed to a proposed mining venture.

Last year, the two governments agreed to ensure the track would remain untouched and landowners would benefit from alternative development projects.