Land abuse exposed

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SOME officers in the lands department are abusing the process of registering incorporated land groups (ILG) by issuing certificates on the same land to different groups, it has been revealed.
Lands and Physical Planning Minister John Rosso told Parliament yesterday that the abuse was causing “huge problems” which the department was trying to address.
“The registrations of ILGs at the lands department has been grossly abused,” he said.
“Some officers are creating ILGs on top of existing ILGs,” he said.
“We are faced with a huge problem at the department.
“Some clans have ILG certificates to a land portion and other clans also have ILG certificates for that same land portion.
“So it is very frustrating for me as the Lands Minister to unravel such abuses at the department.”
Rosso told Parliament that some “educated in urban centres” had been “manipulating” the ILG concept.
The concept is to encourage greater participation by locals in the national economy through the use of their land, better use of their land, greater certainty of title and a more effective settlement of disputes.
“The ILGs are a good concept,” Rosso said.
“But it has been abused because many of these ILGs were (created) by educated people in urban centres on customary lands in rural areas.
“Educated people take advantages of these ILGs and not really harnessing (them) properly.”
He said these educated people manipulated the ILGs in such a way people in the villages did not benefit at all.
“People in the rural areas are not educated,” he said.
“So the educated people manage these ILGs and abuse that trust bestowed on them.
“You can see such practices in Port Moresby, Lae, Madang and other urban centres.”
He said department officers had been conducting meetings with landowners in districts to raise awareness on what could be happening to them.
“This is to help the department seek the views of people on how best to approach customary landowners to enter into partnership (with outsiders) to develop their customary land,” he said.
“Once we have all the reports from our awareness drive, we will (make recommendations) to Parliament on how best we can address reforms.
“Everyone, including the landowners, people and the nation, will benefit from customary land.”
Rosso said acquiring customary land was a sensitive issue which must be addressed properly.