Central landowners against illegal land deal

Manumanu, Magabaira and Pinu landowners gathered at Konedobu, Port Moresby, yesterday to show their support for the illegality of the deal on their land.

Central Province Pressure Group spokesperson, Lucielle Paru, says the land has been sold to people who had no right over it.

The meet was held to address the issue of the illegal land grabs that are taking place in Central and the recent land grab of Manumanu that had two high profile ministers step aside from their portfolios for allegations of involvement.

From Gabadi, Kairuku-Hiri, Paru said the land itself, as per the Defence organisation, is not suitable for a naval base and that it goes 10 kilometres inland.

“The initial lease of the land has expired and the land is to be returned to the natives.”

She says a petition was put forward almost nine months ago to the government; taken up to the Central Province Governor, the Member for Kairuku-Hiri, but was not attended to by the Prime Minister until a few days ago.

She quoted the Prime Minister referring to them not as landowners but as settlers in Manumanu, adding that he should apologise for the particular statement he made.

“We are not settlers. We are the customary landowners and the government has ignored Defence Force expert advice that the land is unsuitable for a naval base to be built on it.”

She questioned their motive of pushing forward on putting a naval base in an area that is unsuitable, questioning their backup plan of resettling the landowners.

“You cannot cause the people to have anxiety and stress, causing them emotional damage when they worry about where they are going to be tomorrow because of what you are causing today.”

Paru adds that a legal team is already in place to pursue the matter in court.

Annette Kora