Lae old runway a project gone wrong


FOR the general public and those curious minds out there who came in late, below is a brief synopsis why the old Lae Airport has remained undeveloped.
In the early 2000s, the Department of Lands and Physical Planning in conjunction with the then Morobe Provincial Physical Planning Board, tendered the old Lae airport land for redevelopment under the Urban Development Lease (UDL) provisions.
The old Lae airport land UDL was designed and designated for residential, public institutions, business for both commercial and light industry, and a hotel or motel site.
A number of applications were received and four successful applicants or developers were allocated their segment of the UDL to develop individually.
The successful UDL applicants or developers were required to put in infrastructure services like roads and drainage, water and sanitation, electricity, landscaping, and telecommunications within a five-year period. It is unfortunate, however, that all those developers have failed to fully develop their segment as required. Not only have the UDL developers failed, but the State too has failed to develop the main trunk road from the highway along the middle of the old runway all the way to the southern end.
What you now see on the ground at the top north western end are some signs of developments. It is doubtful, however, whether the developer of this segment had put into place the required services before selling those allotments to the current occupants. There are no actual developments on the north-eastern end of the old airport runway, but there is an office building belonging to the Judiciary’s Court Sheriff, which is, unfortunately, built within the planned main trunk road. This is the segment that is partly allocated to Angau Hospital.
From the middle roundabout towards the Air Niugini office on the left side of the old runway towards the southern end opposite the rugby league ground, there have been no developments apart from prior existing buildings.
This is the segment where the Lae market is supposed to be in, but nothing has happened.
The Morobe Provincial Government headquarters was also supposed to have been relocated to a site within this segment, but nothing has happened. From the middle roundabout on the right side of the old runway towards the southern end, the segment is undeveloped but fully stacked with containers belonging to a private stevedoring company, supposedly on an illegal lease with the UDL developer. Lastly, at the southern-end tip of the old runway is the designated hotel or motel site which has not been developed but is currently being used by a locally owned private company as a gravel crushing and storage site.
The hotel/motel site was granted to the former traditional landowners as a goodwill gesture from the national Government.
Finally, according to the UDL leases’ terms and conditions, the relevant State institutions, both national and provincial, have totally failed to ensure the completion of the redevelopment project at the old airport runway. It is obvious that one of the failures that the granting authority made was that the UDL segments were allocated to four individual developers rather than to a single developer. Giving it to one developer would have made it easier for all the infrastructure services to be put in place by the one company.
The Department of Lands and Physical Planning should now revisit the old Lae airport land redevelopment design and reallocate the UDL to a genuine single and capable developer.

Lawrence Billy
Hospital Hill

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