By Theckla Gunga EMTV Port Moresby
The Toudikwa Incorporated Land Groups of Alotau, Milne Bay is the first ILG in Papua New Guinea who can legally lease their customary land to the state or other business bodies.
The arrangement that took years to complete now gives Toudikwa landowners the same rights over their customary land, as that of state land.
15 land titles were presented to the landowners yesterday, signalling the ‘go ahead’ for them to lease their land
It has been a long and difficult journey for the respective government departments involved, the customary landowners and NGOs.
It took at least five years, to legally free up the land and complete all the necessary documents before a cleared title could be given.
The journey to acquiring these cleared titles is a result of a move by former Lands and Physical Planning Minister, Puka Temu, in 2005.
The move was to bring in all customary land and register them under state-owned titles.
However the move didn’t go well with landowners, as they fear that if they register their land under the state, they might lose their land forever.
But for the Toudikwa ILG, it was a tougher move because the land was under a Special Agriculture Business Leases Agreement and took longer to surrender the agreements in order to issue the titles back to the customary landowners.
This exercise had proved successful because of the involvement of lands department, office of the Chief of Justice, the treasury department, National Research Institute and Chris Abel, the man spearheading this exercise.
Toudikwa is the first ILG in PNG is to receive these titles and the practice will be carried throughout Papua New Guinea in the coming years.