Lae residents question land acquisition

Concerned Lae residents confronted a Chinese national yesterday outside the Lae Rugby League Oval, demanding that he stop work on a proposed service station.

Kevin Chan of Y&C Enterprise Ltd was caught off guard yesterday when Lae residents; Tracy Terence, Bak Robert and Lemek Luke, confronted him and questioned him on how he had acquired a portion of land at the Lae Rugby League grounds along Markham Road.

The Chinese national presented a state lease dated December 22nd, 2021, that awarded portion 20, section 67, Milinch of Lae, Fourmil of Markham, to joint tenants, Thomas and Tracey Nen. Stamped and signed by the Minister for Lands and Physical Planning, John Rosso, the document stated that “the lease shall be used bona fide for business (commercial) purposes” for a period of 97 years, 9 days from the 7th of December, 2021 to the 16th of December, 2108.

It also stated that “the successful lessee should not enter into any agreement or transaction to sell, lease or sub-lease” any part of the land.

However, when he was confronted this afternoon, Chan said he was only renting the land from the lease holders to build a service station, similar to the one they own at Kamkumung Corner.

Tracy Terence, originally from Southern Highlands but born in Lae, said he had been playing and watching rugby at Lae League since he was a boy. He believes the area around the rugby field and stadium should be reserved as recreational area for the public.

“Lae league has been our second home,” he said. “We hang around there every time, play football; we use the inside field, even the outside field. This is a public space. As a citizen of Morobe, the development that has taken place is frustrating.

“I don’t know how the Lands Department has given them that land, right in the face of Lae city. There have been a couple of developers who tried to develop that land – I’ve seen a few years back – but they have removed the fence and it has been an ongoing issue. People have been attempting to get that land.”

Robert pointed out that according to the ‘Physical Planning Regulation 1990’, a commercial allotment should have a minimum frontage of 10 metres.

“The place where I’ve seen, it’s less than 3 metres away from the main road, which is wrong. The authority needs to come out and clarify why this is happening; who approved it and gave them the permit?”

Lemek Luke, Chairman of the Prima 13A rugby league team in Lae league, questioned how the title was obtained and called on the relevant provincial and national boards to clear the air on the proper zone of that portion, whether it is a ‘public space’, ‘commercial’ or ‘public institutional’.

“And also, I’m urging the minister responsible, you have done better for our city in Lae, our municipal activities, like the planning of recreational areas, they need to have professionals who are certified.

“If it means that they are legitimate (lessees) and there was failure in the physical planning board, failure in the Lands board or failure with the city planners then all the positions need to be readvertised and professionals need to come in and work. If it’s not for now, who else will come in and do it for our future generations?”

Loop author