The Prime Minister of Tawa – 55
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‘To be honest, this makes a lot more sense. Now we know where they are coming from,’ Rhymala told the Economic Affairs Minister who had dropped into her office.
‘I don’t think we can agree with their position. If they are to bear the cost of resettling these people, they should pay for the cost of the land as well.’
‘I agree with you fully. But this is better than their previous stand where they said they wouldn’t pay anything.’
‘Not that this makes much difference. There are over a thousand villagers to be resettled. And they are offering to pay us a million puvees for the entire resettlement.’
‘How much will the land cost?’
‘Well, these villages together cover around twenty square kilometres of land. If we were to buy so much land in Eko, then that’s going to cost…’
‘Chief, you cannot do that. We are not going to resettle them in Eko. We are going to resettle them in uninhabited forest land. We cannot calculate the value of that land using Eko rates, can we?’ Rhymala looked over the minister’s shoulder to see if her assistant was standing outside her office and listening in to their conversation. There was no sign of him.
‘Why not? We can resettle them where we like. If we were to resettle them in Eko, then would they have to pay us Eko rates?’
Rhymala threw up her hands in horror. ‘Please don’t be so unreasonable. If we make such demands, we’ll end up with nothing!’
The Economic Affairs Minister grinned. ‘Actually, it’s not my demand. But this is what the Big Chief says.’
‘He’ll ruin everything. Why is he doing this?’ Rhymala moaned.
‘It’s not entirely his fault. Basically, he got bugged when the bastards at Hepara said they will not pay us anything. So, when they agreed to pay for the cost of moving the villagers, he said they should pay for the cost of land as well.’
‘Which is quite reasonable, isn’t it?’
‘Exactly! Why should we give away our land for free in order to resettle people displaced by that Keenda dam?’
‘But the cost should be the actual cost, not the cost of some imaginary land in Eko!’
‘Big Chief does not think so. Not anymore. You know how adamant he can be. The Keendas have irritated him once more. I wonder where this will take us.’
‘He has no right to do this to his people. He is a great man, but … Why can’t you persuade him that we should ask only for the actual price of the forest land? How much will that cost?’
‘That’s anyone’s guess. It’s empty forest land that is not easily accessible. There’s no market for that. And that’s why the Keendas say they will not pay us for it.’
Rhymala sighed. ‘I wish Big Chief would let me or you negotiate this thing. If he gets involved, he’ll just get us all into another fight with the Keendas!’
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