A 20-year struggle ends


MANY years ago, the Baiyer Valley in Western Highlands had been in the news occasionally.
It was known for the Baiyer River Sanctuary and attempts to start large scale cattle ranching and later cassava production. Apparently none of those commercial activities have succeeded leaving the rich land idle.
But while commercial activities had been aborted, there battle of ownership raged on for two-decades. That battle was finally over for one of the principal owners of the land, Johannes Pook of Kopon Kopi tribe in Dei district.
The title for the portion of land that consists of Pallie, Mermun and part of Kamut with a total of 840 hectares along the Baiyer River valley in Western Highlands has been received by traditionally principal landowner Johannes Pook.
Pook received the title on Thursday Dec 2, 2021 from Department of Lands and Physical Planning.
After receiving the title, Pook thanked the Registrar of Titles and his office staff, especially Rayleen Magando who has been instrumental in making it possible for the release of the title. He also thanked PNG Lands Titles Commissioner Kutt Paonga and his entire mediation team for making everything possible for him to receive the title.
“My fight for the land title started in 2006. It took me through rough tides and winding roads facing ups and down for 20 solid years,” Pook said.
“It really cost me and my family life. No tribesmen even helped me in the battle, however it was a faithful humble battle as I had 100 per cent belief and trust in my immortal God, that one fine day He will reward me with this very title.
“My God finally rewarded me with it, which is rightfully mine according to my Heavenly Father’s plan and will in my life,” he said.
“It is a great relief for me and my family but the win also belongs to Kopon Kopi people and I dedicated it to them as well as. The next battle is not over yet.
“My next fight will be for the remaining portions of my land, which are also within the Bapna valley. I will fight to the last man in terms of legality. If it means for me to spend my last toea or if it cost my entire family life, I will be a relieved person and it will be a legacy. It is a mission unaccomplished for the next lot of portions.”
With regard to the remaining portions within Bapna valley, Pook said his next fight would be over Portion 156 within the Bapna valley.
“I will launch a legal battle against MBL Limited, a company owned by Mul-Baiyer Lumusa district administration. MBL is a company incorporated by few people with vested interests over the Kopon Kopi people’s land.
“These people should understand that 95 per cent of Portion 156 is geographically located in Dei district and not in Mul-Baiyer Lumusa district. The land rightfully belongs to Kopon Kopi people of Dei district and they own it ancestrally.
“The people who were behind the company (MBL) must know and understand that three quarters of Portion 156 remains in the Dei district. They should also know the district boundary between Dei and Mul Baiyer Lumusa districts.
“They must be fully aware that Baiyer River remains a geographical boundary and three quarters of Portion 156 is in Dei district and not Mul Baiyer Lumusa. How come MBL owns that land? MBL doesn’t own the land traditional and ancestrally,” Pook said.