by Scott Waide – EM TV, Lae
A filing clerk in the Morobe Provincial Lands Office has been sacked after it was found that he signed off on a letter that led to the sale of the Papuan Compound playing field in Lae.
The termination happened several days after concerns were raised when residents heard that the field had been sold.
The authorisation letter was found within a thick document detailing ownership and development proposals by the new owner. It was handed over to the lands division as proof of ownership.
Bypassing all protocols, the filing clerk signed on behalf of the acting provincial lands program advisor, Jonah Suvi, in a letter addressed to the Secretary for Lands in Port Moresby. Senior provincial government officers explained that such a letter should have been written by the provincial administrator.
The letter, dated 25 March 2012, stated that an inspection was carried out the Papuan Compound field, Lot 35, Section 39 on the same date and that “during inspection the property was found to be vacant and undeveloped.”
Senior officers in the administration said that single document triggered the tendering process which eventually led to the sale of the playing field.
Two weeks ago, Papuan Compound residents held a public protest demanding answers from the provincial lands division with many accusing them of corruption and illegal land sales in Lae City.
Investigations into other land dealings have revealed that some land portions have dual titles – the original belonging to the provincial government and the other belonging to private individuals.
One case, in particular, involving businessman Mathew Minape and the Independence Park purchase, sale and subdivision will be contested in court. The Morobe Provincial Administration will be challenging ownership and the process which allowed Minape followed to obtain commercial titles over the land.