Church asks settlers to leave

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FOUR months have been given to illegal settlers on Malahang portion 354 in Lae to vacate the land voluntarily but they are still living there, says an official.
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (ELCPNG) national secretary Bernard Kaisom said a court made its ruling on March 25 and set the deadline on July 25 for the illegal settlers to move.
“The last thing the church wants is a forced eviction, so people should see it from the media as the last warning and move voluntarily,” he said.
Kaisom said according to the ruling by Justice Paulus Mapa Dowa, it was a matter of who owned the title and the legal timeframe given for appeal was over.
“The chancellor of the church wrote a last letter to the settlers notifying them to vacate the land,” he said. “The church wants to minimise the pain as much as possible for them.
“We encourage them to move voluntarily so their materials can be saved properly and those who are interested can always write their expression of interest letter and let us know so when we are ready.”
Kaisom said that the church was trying to work with the government to help develop the country because the government itself was running out of solutions.
“We are working with the government now to help develop our country and the developers will come in and the land is the catalyst for that,” he said.
“The next step forward is to lease with the authorities, we will talk with the right authorities for a right way forward on what to do with the land in terms of development.”
The secretary said that the church had a lot of development plans for the land for the good of the country and the people. “We want to make it a proper development, to make it a commercial residential area, and make it a model type of residence where it is more organised and more controlled,” he said.
“Whoever is interested in leasing the land, then they have to show that they are capable of developing that place with a certain value of Kina and not to come and settle illegally.”

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