Clan leader: Ahi group must not dictate

National, Normal

The Nationl, Monday 10th September, 2012

LANDOWNERS should be free to make decisions on how their land is used and not be subject to authorities such as the Ahi Land Mobilsation Group in Lae city, a clan leader says.
Busrum clan leader Michael Geali made the statement in relation to assertions by officials of the Land Mobilisation group, Ahi local level government president and Ahi Landowners Association that all issues relating to land in Lae should be verified by the organisation.
Geali agreed that matters relating to ownership of land in Lae was a matter for the Kamkumung and Butibam clans but said issues in relation to ownership of different portions of clan-owned land rested solely with respective traditional owners.
“It is up to different land groups and landowner families to ensure that their portion of land is registered as an Indigenous Land Group (ILG) to enable a claim to true ownership,” he said.
“If traditional landowners are sure about their owning land in and around Lae, they should take the next step of registering their land to enable them to live on it or develop it as they please.”
He said much of the land in Lae had been acquired by the provincial government, industries and business people and he questioned whether the land groups were working to better Ahi landowners.
“Are they assisting to facilitate these questionable land deals and trying to lead development projects in the city and on traditional land when they don’t have the authority under civil or traditional customs to do so?” he said.
“They (the groups) should be coming down to liaise with clans and landowners so that everyone benefits instead of keeping aloof and trying to run the show as they please.”
He said many people who claimed to be Ahi landowners were in fact settlers from elsewhere in Morobe who were invited by earlier settlers to make gardens and live in Ahi villages or in the area where Lae now stands.
With regard to other clans that had assumed the name of Busurum, he maintained the only clan with that name was from Butibam village.
“There is no other Busurum clan outside this village,” Geali said.
The Ahi Land Mobilisation, Ahi LLG president and Ahi Landowners Association two weeks ago made a public statement that all land issues in relation to Lae city land was the collective prerogative of Butibam and Kamkumung villages.
They said major project ventures n Lae like the Port Tidal Basin, should be entered into by the two groups as one entity and not separately as clans.