Eviction move gains momentum

National, Normal

The National, Monday, May 16, 2011

A CALL to evict illegal settlers is gaining momentum in Madang after the three higher learning institutions in the province led a peaceful protest march to the provincial government house last week.
The protesters want the people living in the Guv Stoa compound to be evicted.
One man Steven Emmanuel, Carpenters Hardware manager, who fell victim to thugs at 26, the road leading to the airport, is calling on the government to reintroduce the Vagrancy Act.
Emmanuel was held up while opening his gate, punched, robbed and knifed.
He condemned the actions of the thugs and said the place was notorious for car thefts and petty crimes against motorists  especially as the road leads into the township from the airport.
“The Vagrancy Act must be reintroduced. The company I work for, stakeholders and on behalf of all business houses in Madang, believes nuisance cannot be tolerated as James Barnes, Jant Timbers and other government or private enterprise in that area have an ongoing problem with criminals,” he said.
A landowner, who did not want to be named, said too often, the access bridge leading to Kerema compound and 26 from Guv Stoa compound made it easier for criminals from one end to mix with others and cause more trouble.
Students and staff from Madang Technical College, Divine Word University and Maritime College have given a 14-day ultimatum to the provincial government.
Yesterday, a large crowd gathered at 26 junction as early as 7am to watch a drunken brawl.
Semaus Takei, former ward five councillor in Siar and who is now on Sir Arnold Amet’s staff, said yesterday squatter numbers were rising.
 “Over K500,000 has been set aside to pay the contractor doing the bridge work connecting 26 and Guv Stoa as a short cut route to the airport but what is being done about it.
“Have they finished the work, are the people being paid out?
“Where is the settlement committee?” he said.
He said legal issues stalled the eviction exercise which continued to be dragged in the courts.
He said it was administrative slackness in following through with Sir Arnold’s call for a door to door survey in settlements to find out facts before any move was undertaken.
Previously women groups had petitioned the provincial administration and the government over the same issues.
“The provincial administration cannot say they don’t have money because, to begin with, they have no facts to source funding,” Takei said.
Maritime Workers Union president John Mahuk said last week in the worst case his members would not work on cargo into Madang.
“We demand that the government looks into this very seriously for if the students’ studies are affected the union would use this extreme measure,” he said from Port Moresby.
An attempt to get a follow-up from the provincial administrator was unsuccessful last week as he was “too busy”.