THE State is no different from our colonial regime when it paid pittance for customary land here to set up their headquarters and in some cases forcefully developed land without compensating the landowners.
A classic example today is the PNGDF RBF (State Agent) and their developer, Toea Homes, claiming customary land as being State land without consulting the landowners who live just next door to the housing estate being developed.
A land determination (Central Claim 45) reveals that land surrounding the Taurama Barracks area on the eastern and northern sides are within Central Claim 45 and under the custody of the Vaga ILG of Kirakira village. Parts of the eastern and southern sides belong to their relatives of Pari Village.
Apart from the mere seven or so hectares that was bought and receipted for the army barracks by the colonial administration, the rest still remains customary land and the areas now being developed for the housing estate is customary land unless of course the State provides evidence of ownership.
All the land surrounding the developed portions of the army barracks are being used for training and firing range still remain customary land.
In a letter to the Department of Territories, Canberra, dated March 12, 1952, in response to their memo dated December 11, 1951, Administrator DM Cleland on the matter of customary land acquisition surrounding the Taurama Barracks for the firing range, stated: “The acquisition of this land was taken up with Colonial Madden who stated that as the area is only required for a Rifle Range, there would be no necessity to acquire the land and the Natives could still make their gardens there.
“Under the circumstances, the CD Port Moresby is endeavouring to come to some amicable arrangement with the landowners on this basis.”
Recently, the Kirakira and Pari people make gardens on the said area but are now deprived of this ownership and heritage, not to mention that huge customary land masses (Korobosea, Boroko East, Sporting Grounds) still remain uncompensated for by the colonial administration and subsequently PNG Governments since Independence.
The Papuan people, especially the Motu Koitabuans, are understanding and tolerant people who have been deprived of their heritage, exposed to harshness of unlikely behaviour from other ethnic groups illegally squatting on their land.
How much more will these people take?
It is important that Toea Homes and the PNGDF RBF prove their ownership (or the State) of the payment and ownership of the said land otherwise just simply drive down to Kirakira and Pari and sort this out, which you should have done in the first instance.