By Bethannie Harriman – EM TV, Lae
Amidst Lae’s expensive real estate market, customary landowners are calling on the government to create opportunities for them to develop their land, providing them an opportunity to build affordable rental homes.
Lae’s traditional landowners have prime land around Lae City’s boundaries. The landownders are set out to develop the land themselves, abandoning any idea of selling land for foreign ownership.
According to the landowners, the Land-Mobilisation Authority has failed to create opportunities for them to develop their land into revenue streams. They are now calling for the government to simplify a process where they can easily meet bank requirements for loans, to build affordable rental homes.
Yanam Omba belongs to a clan of Kumkumung landowners, he, like many others, want to develop their traditional land into properties. This business plan would include affordable homes for other Papua New Guineans to buy and rent.
He doesn’t want to sell his land; he wants to develop it on his own terms.
But, whats holding him back is the Ahi Land Mobilisation Authority’s inability to help him develop his land and with bureaucracy combined. He believes the pain staking wait for land titles from the Morobe Provincial Lands and Physical Planning board minimises his chances of obtaining loans from banks.
Yanam Omba is now calling on the National Government to empower landowners who have land as a birth right, to build homes for Papua New Guineans who live in Lae.
Yanam speaks for the majority of Ahi clans, the traditional landowners of Lae City who have land but require start up financial packages from banks. They also need technical advice to turn their land into money-making streams to help middle-income earning Papua New Guineans own homes.
In light of the growth of Lae and the shortage of land, landowners like Yanam are willing to use their land for development, but they aren’t going to sell it to foreigners.
Yanam and other Ahi’s in this generation have now begun to understand that their land can be used to build decent and affordable homes for other Papua New Guineans, to rent and buy.
As Lae’s economy grows, real estate markets become expensive in suburbs around the commercial area, pushing families into settlements.