No Gas Agreement until Court Determines PDA SABL Title

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By Jack Lapauve Jr – EMTV News, Port Moresby

The gathering was a show of all eight tribes unified under the Purari Development Association (PDA). PDA was granted SABL title in 2011 that covers over 650, 000 hectares of land in Baimuru, Kikori District, Gulf Province under the Lease-Lease-Back arrangement of the Lands Act 1996.

The title was awarded on the back of a comprehensive genealogy study in 1994 and a 2005 Provincial Land Court decision that awarded the whole of the west bank of Purari River to one of the major landowner tribe, the Iare Tribe.

Soon after (2012) the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into SABL controversies was established. It concluded with recommendations for SABL’s to be cancelled.

NEC approved for the SABL’s to cancelled and left the implementation with a Ministerial Committee with the support of officials.

The first sign of action with implementation was through a public advertorial in 2014, where a total of some 30 SABLs were informed to surrender their titles with the Registrar of Title (ROT). PDA’s SABL was not among this list.

Between 2014 and 2017, PDA made numerous representations to the Ministry and Department of Lands and Physical Planning, to seek clarification on the status of their own title.

On February 2018, Minister for Lands and Physical Planning, Justin Tkatchenko, was questioned on the floor of Parliament by Governor of Gulf Province, Chris Haiveta, on what his Department is doing regarding the cancellation of PDA’s SABL over the whole of the Baimuru, which for him was excessively huge. Tkatchenko responded by saying the ROT was in the process of cancelling the title.

The Department of Lands discovered two additional titles that were given on the existing title area for PDA. In October 2018, the ROT, Benjamin Samson, issued by public advertorial a request for PDA to surrender its SABL title. In the same advertorial then, Samson requested the surrender to two other titles which the Office of ROT has issued to another entity over the same portion of land held by PDA. These two other titles were issued in 2014 and 2017, which according to PDA were fraudulently obtained.

The main grounds for the action by the ROT was for supposed lack of Land Investigation Report (LIR) in PDA’s application that led to the Association being awarded the SABL title.

PDA contested ROT’s public advertorial and the public launch on Sunday 3rd March 2019 was PDA’s commencement of:

a. Its defense of the integrity of its SABL Title, and
b. Its challenge of the two titles, which its considers fraudulent

 

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