THE Paga Hill Development Company is contemplating legal action against government minister Justin Tkatchenko after he attacked the treatment of squatters who were removed from Paga Hill to enable a major urban development in Port Moresby.
Tkatchenko (far right) is a local parliamentarian in Port Moresby and is believed to be seeking re-election at national elections in June this year.
The company accused Tkatchenko of diverting attention from his own inaction and “stirring the political pot for [his] own selfish purposes.”
In a letter released to the media, CEO Gudmundur (Gummi) Fridriksson (above) and director Stanley Kuli Liria demand that Tkatchenko immediately retract what they refer to as “defamatory and baseless statements in relation to our squatter resettlement initiative and title acquisition” by the end of today.
The statement says that the company has title over Paga Hill which cannot be undone and that it has won every legal challenge in the District, National and Supreme Courts in Papua New Guinea.
It also says the company treated the squatters properly and resettled them in a way that won commendation from the head of the United Nations in PNG.
“Despite not being required to do so, PHDC spent millions in humanely resettling the illegal Paga Hill squatters,” the statement says.
“This included the donation of blocks of land (which in some cases have been on-sold), as well as the provision of civil works, water, power and ablution facilities.
“In addition, PHDC provided business and literacy training through the Ginigoada Foundation, community governance support and security at site.
“Following this extensive and prolonged support, the community was officially handed over in a ceremony in October 2014.”
PHDC continues to provide support to the resettled community but says it cannot be held responsible for its continuing welfare in the face of land shortages and persistent urban drift into Port Moresby.
The statement says it is politicians like Tkatchenko who should be addressing these issues.
“Rather, you completely failed in your role as the local Member of Parliament,” it says.
“In no way have you, these people’s elected representative, assisted any of these landmark efforts, and to attend the site now, so close to an election, is a blatant and shallow attempt to discredit these achievements, divert attention from your own inactions and stir the political pot for your own selfish purposes.”
The company also says the issues Tkatchenko raised were in stark contradiction to PNG Cabinet decisions to which he was a party which declared Paga Hill a project of national significance in 2012 and made it the preferred location for the hosting of APEC 2018 (“which also happens to fall within your ministerial portfolio”) and acknowledged the development of a ‘Tourism City’ at Paga Hill as means of attracting foreign investment.
“Your bizarre and incomprehensible actions serve to potentially undermine our and government’s efforts, deterring foreign investment and job opportunities for the likes of your own constituents,” it says.
“Your recent actions stand to hinder this process and are in contrast to government decisions that you were party to.
“Worse, they are a shallow attempt at chasing votes at the expense of a genuinely exciting project that will benefit all Papua New Guineans.”
The company statement concludes by saying that “PHDC has spent tens of millions to date [on Paga Hll] and is now pursuing approximately K3 billion funding to pursue a transformative vision for Port Moresby, one that will create thousands of jobs, uplift the city’s tourist infrastructure and trigger a more diversified local economy.”
It demands an immediate retraction to what are termed Tkatchenko’s “defamatory and baseless statements”.