Big win for clans

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A COURT has ordered the State to pay compensation to the traditional owners of the land on which the K350 million Pacific Marine Industrial Zone project will be located in Madang.
Justice David Cannings yesterday ruled that the total amount would be assessed later when the five clans had submitted their claims.
Outside the National Court in Madang town yesterday, the happy landowners said they were looking at K50 million for each of the five clans, on top of other claims they would submit to the court.
The five who filed the case in 2015 were:
l Patrick Yal Kuna for himself and on behalf of his Bamaya Wana clan of Rempi;

  • Pais Kob for himself and on behalf of his Halopa Masualaug clan of Mediba;
  • Joseph Kubali for himself and on behalf of his Sarepi clan of Dubup;
  • Willie Kaitok for himself and on behalf of his Barpi clan of Budup; and,
  • Albert Koli for himself and his Aleodik clan of Budup.

The defendants were the Mission of the Holy Ghost (New Guinea) Property Trust, RD Fishing Ltd, John Andrias, the Commerce and Industry Department Secretary, Marine Park Holdings Limited and the Government. The clans claimed that they were traditional landowners of Portion 625 which will accommodate the industrial zone project.
The court was told that the land was formerly a freehold land owned by Mission of the Holy Ghost (New Guinea) Property Trust. In 1994, it applied to the Minister for Lands to convert it to a leasehold land.
A State lease was acquired which was transferred to the Madang government which transferred the lease title to another party which transferred it to RD Fishing Limited, which surrendered the title to the State.
The land was subdivided into Portion 1349 and Portion 1350. Both were given as State leases to RD Fishing and the Marine Park project respectively.
The clans claimed the State had failed to acknowledge or consider their interests in the land as its traditional owners.The defendants argued that the case be dismissed because it was, among other reasons, an abuse of process. But Justice Cannings dismissed the arguments by the defendants and ordered that the State, as the “expropriating” authority, pay “just compensation” for failing to consider the clans’ interests.
“The plaintiffs’ interests in the land had been adversely affected by the actions of the defendants, to the extent that those interests had been compulsorily acquired by the State, as an expropriating authority, giving rise to an entitlement to just compensation on just terms under Section 53(2) of the Constitution,” he said.
The clans said outside court they would claim monetary compensation from the State, plus titles to the land portions outside of the PMIZ-fenced project.
They also wanted spin-off benefits from PMIZ project. Justice Cannings will consider the types of compensation and the conditions required by the plaintiffs when the matter returns to court.