LOGEA NAO, BELDEN ENDEKRA & LUCY HAMAGO
| PNG National Research Institute | Extracts
PORT MORESBY - The use of State-established instruments and institutions to legitimise scams is becoming an increasing trend in Papua New Guinea.
Recently, the Manumanu land deal has become a national scandal for the current government.
Two past examples with similar outcomes are the Special Agriculture and Business Leases (SABL) and the Taurama Valley.
In both cases, State instruments and institutions have been used to legitimise land grabbing at the expense of landowners and developers alike: SABL by the Department of Lands and Physical Planning (DLPP) and Taurama Valley by the Office of Urbanisation.
In this article, we want to bring to the attention of the public another possible large scale scam that affects land belonging to the customary landowners of Tatana, Baruni, Roku, Kouderika, Porebada, Boera, Papa, and Lealea, and the business community along the Fairfax Harbour, starting with Puma at Napanapa on the West and ending with Motukea and the Edai Township towards the PNG LNG Site.
Through National Gazette No G76 dated 7 February 2017, the Minister for Lands and Physical Planning has declared over 23,000 hectares (starting at Fairfax Harbour and ending at the PNG LNG Site) to fall within the administrative authority of the Konebada Petroleum Park Authority (KPPA).
The declared area covers sea, land, the villages named above (except for Tatana and Baruni), and all businesses within the declared area.
At the outset, it should be noted that there is a serious problem with the new boundary. The zone, as gazetted, does not exclude the LNG Project Area. Given that the ‘Schedule’ excludes Waypoint No 9, the gazetted ‘Zone’ is null and void. If this cannot be done properly then what else are they not doing properly?
The declaration of this new boundary raises many questions, including the following:
What is the KPPA?
What has the KPPA done so far?
Why did the Minister for Lands and Physical Planning (Minister for Lands henceforth) re-zone the area of the Konebada Petroleum Park?
On what basis and what development plan?
Have the leaseholders and traditional villagers been consulted? Is there a legal process and has it been followed?
What implications are there for the village communities within the declared area?
What implications are there for the businesses that operate within the declared area?
The list of questions is indeed endless. As a general rule of thumb, it is reasonable to assume that, the more questions there are, the more fishy developments of this nature become.
Is this decision simply another scam by powerful individuals at the expense of traditional customary landowners and good corporate citizens?
This article is informed by the preliminary information so far gathered. PNG NRI is committed to further investigating the KPPA, and to protecting the land under the POM LNG Corridor in the interests of protecting customary landowners, businesses with interests there, and for the orderly promotion and development of PNG’s land for the benefit of generations into the future.
Given the potential impacts on businesses and traditional villages within the declared area, the intent of this article is to clearly expose the KPPA as a State-sanctioned scam.
Whether knowingly or otherwise, it is a scam that creates avenues for land grabbing facilitated by the Minister for Lands and Physical Planning. It sits ingloriously among past scams, such as Manumanu land and the Taurama valley.
The government must intervene immediately and stop this scam, before it becomes a monster that kills businesses and facilitates land grabbing – a repeat of Taurama and Manumanu experiences within the Port Moresby LNG Corridor.
The Port Moresby LNG Corridor is a prime piece of real estate which can be developed into a township that benefits the villagers, Central Provincial Government, the National Capital District (NCD), and businesses and visitors to Port Moresby.
Unless corrective actions are taken immediately to retract the Gazette and abolish the KPPA, the government will have institutionalised a process for land grabbing and the killing for business interests, and instead promoted disorderly development.
The parallels between Manumanu and the KPPA saga are obvious. As it did with Manumanu, the government should take a strong and unequivocal stance.
Those responsible, including those in the management and boards of the KPPA and KPPA Limited, the Minister for Lands and Physical Planning, and technical staff within DLPP, should be thoroughly investigated and, if necessary, charged.
Logea Nao and Belden Endekra are research fellows in the Property Sector Development Program at the PNG National Research Institute. Lucy Hamago is a research project officer in the Property Sector Development Program