by Edwin Fidelis – EM TV, Lae
In the face of development in Lae City, the growing demand for land to meet economic developments has posed threats to both traditional and state-owned land.
A series of land grabbing in Lae has attracted government attention to look into illegal land grabs in Lae and Port Moresby.
“I have given directions to my secretary to do a stock take on all urban development land in the nation’s capital and also in Morobe Province,” said Benny Allan, Land Minister.
Earlier this month, traditional landowners of Lae City, the Ahi people, blocked off state land at the old Lae airport.
They demanded Morobe’s Provincial Lands and Physical Planning Board Chairman, Patilias Gamato to step down from his post.
Mathew Minape, a Lae-based businessman, is also in a court battle with the Provincial Lands Board after his properties were demolished earlier this month following allegations of illegal land deals.
Meanwhile, an investigation into illegal land deals in the province has resulted in the suspension of a junior lands officer, who allegedly facilitated the sale of the Papuan Compound playing field.
“The problems with land deals in Lae are that the deals made are not properly followed in the proper plan… You have double titles, three titles issued to one block… And it’s a real mess,” said Allan McLay, President of Lae’s Chamber of Commerce.
Much of the blame in the land grab issue has been levelled against poor collective political will by successive governments, both at the provincial and national level.
Most of the land issues that have occurred this month in Lae were results of illegal land deals.