Minister puts to rest land rumours

Lands Minister Justin Tkatchenko put to rest some questions regarding selling and buying of customary land in the nation’s capital.

He responded after NCD Governor and close ally, Powes Parkop, asked him to clarify whether or not the government was arranging shady deals between landowners and buyers outside of proper processes.

The NCD Governor was inclined to crush rumours his government was involved in illegal land deals after Member for Moresby North-West, Sir Mekere Morauta, accused the government of ‘actively facilitating’ land deals without proper consultation with customary landowners.

Sir Mekere’s initial questions regarding a lack of consultation with landowners before customary land was sold off were answered by the Prime Minister.

“Landowners should hold those selling off their land to account. The Voluntary Land Registration has been passed and is the guideline to making transactions of customary land.

“The ILGs are there to protect the interest of customary landowners,” Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said.

However, NCD Governor Powes Parkop needed to hear it from the Lands Minister.

“The member for Moresby North-West should come and ask the NCDC Land Board about this. I want the Minister to say whether or not we are stealing land, instead of protecting it,” Governor Parkop said.

Minister Tkatchenko said sometimes, customary landowners sell off their land without consultation with the Department, and that is why most have been taken advantage of because there is no proper record of land titles.

“Landowners need to be responsible. Some have been inconsiderate of the planning and building board.

“The Voluntary Land Registration concept is for their benefit as well as registration of ILG to establish the right owners to the land.”

Meantime, the Prime Minister settled queries regarding major road projects, including the Koura Freeway that NCDC was taking care of compensation processes.

(Lands Minister Justin Tkatchenko)

Salome Vincent