Illegal buildings allowed to sprout


THE letter by Lorentz Gaius, of Ketskets village, (The National, Mar 20) about the lack of action by the Building Board and Physical Planning in Lae to stop the construction of commercial buildings and conducting of businesses in areas zoned residential is an all too familiar complaint about the lack of activity in that department.
About a year ago the department came out in the media advising the public of its resolve to clamp down on illegal building structures and breaches of zoning bylaws.
Sadly that resolve had not stopped these breaches, with Morobe’s capital city still littered with illegal constructions and the practice is continuing unchecked.
In November last year, I reported a similar construction and zoning breach at 81 Siai Street, Korobosea, in Port Moresby, where a residential house was pulled down and a commercial building was being built on the allotment.
With no signs of intervention or work stoppage by Building Board /Physical Planning, I followed up after about three weeks in December after reporting the case as the work simply continued unchecked, although I was initially told by Building Board/Physical Planning that they would do an inspection and if found to be illegal, they would have it dismantled.
However, to my surprise and dismay Building Board /Physical Planning advised me that, surprise surprise, the officer who was handling the case had gone on leave and won’t be back until February 2019. Was that a coincidence?
To make matters worse I was told that they couldn’t follow up in the officer’s absence because they could not locate the file.
Today, villagers can contact their town folks daily by mobile phone if they need to but I guess the officer concerned didn’t have a mobile phone for contact while on holiday.
And, of course, nothing was done to stop this illegal construction with the building having now been completed and advertised for rent as a warehouse – right smack in between residential houses in a residentially zoned area of NCD.
And it is simply preposterous and nonsensical to turn up later to tell offenders to dismantle an offending structure after it had been allowed to be constructed and completed without any interventions work stoppage by the Building Board and Physical Planning.
Driving around NCD, one could not miss seeing the ever changing zoning landscapes and overspreading of zoning breaches where residential buildings and houses have been replaced by or converted into shops and commercial buildings right under the noses of a Building Board and Physical Planning department officials who appeared toothless or indifferent to upholding building regulations and statutory functions and responsibilities.
Another glaring example of endemic mismanagement and corruption in government departments and institutions?