SABL land files missing

The Lands Minister says he will turn the Department upside down to locate 60 land files belonging to Special Agriculture Business Leases (SABLs) which are missing from the Department’s records.

In a media conference yesterday, Justin Tkatchenko said only 40 land files out of 100 had been found.

He said a thorough search within every corner of the Department will be made to find the documents.

Tkatchenko was flanked by the members of the Customary Land Advisor Committee (CLAC) during the announcement.

He said of the 40 land files, 10 have been cancelled as per court orders, voluntary surrender and legal advice as the SABL title holders did not follow proper procedures in attaining them.

Meanwhile, the registrar of titles will be summoning SABL holders that went through court or mediation, and consent orders signed for them to apply for the Incorporated Land Group (ILG) process, but are yet to surrender their SABLs.

The CLAC has also written to the office of the solicitor general requesting information on all SABL matters before the court to assist state lawyers file defences.

The committee will prioritise to assist the solicitor general file a defence on a judicial review proceeding regarding the awarding of an SABL to a company in Talasea, West New Britain Province.

The prioritisation of the land in question, Portion 196C, was the subject of a news item featured on Al Jazeera recently.

Currently the CLAC is examining the process in the issuance of SABLs against Sections 11 and 102 of the Land Act 1996, which are pre-requisites for and to be registered under SABL. 

Cedric Patjole