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“In all of it, my interest has been in the people,” Dame Carol says

Dame Carol KiduKEITH JACKSON

IN a thoughtful comment to PNG Attitude (“this is a first for me to post a comment on a blog,” she noted), Dame Carol Kidu has explained to readers her relationship with the Paga Hill Development Company (PHDC).

Dame Carol said that, after retiring from politics in 2012, she withdrew from affairs related to the Paga Hill settlement in Port Moresby while the residents continued to pursue court cases to determine whether they were legally entitled to remain there.

“(This was) a matter on which I have never agreed and was always clear with them (the settlers) when I was the MP for Moresby South,” Dame Carol said.

On 1 July last year, after two years of court battles, the PNG Supreme Court upheld a previous decision of the National Court which recognised the title held by PHDC and gave the company full access to its 13.7 hectare Paga Hill commercial lease (Portion 1597).

(It should be noted for clarity that the Supreme Court also found that a separate area of reclaimed waterfront land lay outside the boundary of PHDC's Portion 1597.) 

PHDC is developing a modern city precinct including residential, retail and commercial property, a marina, a cruise liner terminal, restored World War II relics and a cultural centre.

Dame Carol said that, after the court decisions, her own consultancy entered into a six-month contract with PHDC to assist with a project to relocate settlers.

“(The contract) ended when individual land documents were given to each family that chose to move to 6 Mile (now called Tagua community),” she said.

“Because the issue of relocation is a critical aspect of the urbanisation policy that has never been addressed, it interested me to actually work with the practicalities on the ground.”

Dame Carol said she is not ashamed to have worked for the company that she was previously very critical of at the time of earlier forced evictions.

“In all of it, my interest has been in the people, a few of whom have been extremely difficult to work with,” she said.

“PHDC professional staff have since been working on documenting lessons learnt in the relocation work within the framework of UN standards.

“I am entitled to change my opinion about a company and its staff as new circumstances emerge,” Dame Carol said, adding, “and I intend to remain interested in the plans for the development of Paga Hill.”

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