AG vows to probe Madang hostel sale

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday, May 4, 2011

ATTORNEY-General Sir Arnold Amet said he will personally look into an alleged fraudulent sale of a government hostel in Madang between the National Housing Commission and a private real estate company.
Niugini Properties Ltd, a subsidiary of the Papindo Group of Companies, had notified tenants to move out of section 31, allotment 1 along Regina Avenue close to the Madang Golf Club greens.
The Admin Hostel, formerly the Girls Hostel, comprises seven buildings housing 31 families.
 It was sold for K2.5 million in 2008.
The tenants, including women and children, met with Sir Arnold and expressed their concerns.
Herman Swaikere, attached with the provincial internal audit unit, had lived there for the last 16 years.
He told Sir Arnold that they had been told to move out as soon as possible for fencing to be erected.
The property was allegedly sold to Niugini Properties during the tenure of Roberta Sapak, the former provincial NHC boss.
The attorney-general told the tenants that he had brought the matter up with Housing Minister Andrew Kumbakor last week. It was likely that they would meet with Lands Minister Lucas Dekena to deliberate on the sale.
“I do not have an immediate alternate solution for you people but, for now, I will ask the housing minister to dig up the files and we will sort it out at the ministerial level.
“If there are any irregularities that we will undo, we will do it.
“The only alternative is to put off the eviction until the government finds alternate housing,” Sir Arnold told the tenants.
Swaikere responded: “To date, nothing has been showed to us and we will not move until and unless we see something in black and white.”
The provincial lands department had denied knowledge of the sale.
The tenants also claimed that they had not been served eviction notices, although NHC officials in Madang had claimed doing so.
Tenant Fidelis Garapet said: “Our own investigations have revealed that the property was sold through a bank mortgage under a 99-year lease arrangement with the company.”