CONSTITUENTS OF THE MOTU KOITA ASSEMBLY in Papua New Guinea’s National Capital District are staring down the barrel of an executive and legislative gun.
For most, if not all the people, this may be their last chance because the PNG government is now set on uprooting them from their homeland to make way for Port Moresby’s expansion.
In May, the O’Neill-Namah government approved for the port to be relocated from Port Moresby Harbour to the Tatana village and Napanapa oil refinery precincts.
National Capital District governor Powes Parkop had also previously ordered his Physical Planning Office to develop local development plans covering both government and Motu Koitabu land, an area covering Kaevaga/Poreporena, Huhunama/Tovabada, Napanapa/Daugo Island, Taurama South, Taurama/Dogura South, and Dogura North
Successive Motu Koitabu generations have inherited problems created by bad land alienation policies. And the actions of the national and the metropolitan governments are the latest in a long line.
If this had occurred in the Highlands region, the outcome would be obvious. But here in the nation’s capital, our peace-loving nature has got the better of us and our eregabes (youth) are becoming restless. Most of them are disoriented, unemployable and destitute. And they are landless, hungry and angry.
For most of the Motu Koitabu people, Governor Parkop is a chameleon. He says one thing to us; but behind us he says another. In fact, behind us he is detrimental.
In May he attended a gathering of Motu Koitabu people at the University of Papua New Guinea and admitted he had failed them. This is honourable but it is too little too late.
Not many people know that, when he visited Motu Koitabu voters in 2007, he promised justice for Motu Koitabu people. At the time it was a significant statement coming from a human rights lawyer. The people bought it hook line and sinker.
Motu Koitabu constituents represent some 10% of NCD’s total voter population. Therefore, these people alone cannot vote in their own candidate unless that person can canvass both Motu Koitabu and non-Motu Koitabu voters.
The Motu Koitabu people may have the Motu Koita Assembly. But as the years go by, it has become obvious that it has become a political compromise that gives mere lip service. Unlike the National Capital District and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, the Motu Koita Assembly is toothless.
Why has the National Government co-operated with NCD and Bougainville governments over the years and not Assembly chairman Miria Ikupu? Motu Koitabu people have been left to guess the answer.
One possibility is that the Assembly is not a creature of the Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Government. Therefore, it cannot attract the type of funding and respect that is enjoyed by other provincial governments and local level governments.
The Assembly’s decision to grant him leave of absence to do this has aroused controversy. But, according to legal advice, his decision is supported by law.
In an earlier statement, reported in PNG Attitude, Mr Ikupu explained his reasons for contesting, among them that the Motu Koitabu people have been marginalised on their own land.
Since Mr Ikupu’s announcement to contest the election, his detractors have been relentless.
NCD’s Motu Koitabu people need to start implementing a consolidated political entity. They should be considering such options as an Open Electorate; or a government akin to the Manus Provincial Government or the Autonomous Bougainville Government.
And they must do something immediately, so that the national and municipal governments can return the proverbial gun to its holster.
Oala Moi is an aspiring Papua New Guinea writer from Boera village in the Hiri District of Central Province