Landowner says he did not start Kamkumung fight

Lae News, Normal

The National, Tuesday August 07th, 2012

LIMKI landowner John Ngandang has dismissed claims there was a fight in Kamkumung and that he destroyed the food gardens of settlers on his land.
“There was no fight and I did not destroy any food gardens. I have a gravel business and the bulldozer that had gone into my area was there for the sole purpose of getting gravel from the river and nothing else,” he said.
Ngandang, who owns the land at Limki, said his father had allowed settlers to live on his land without them paying any rent since the 1970s but he now wanted the settlers to move out because he was proposing to turn the area into a housing scheme.
“I won the title to my land back in 1986 and these people (settlers) have been living on my land without paying any rent. As a business man, I would like to develop my land for a housing scheme for my children,” Ngandang said.
Ngandang is deputy chairman of Bub Development and managing director of the company. He is chairman of the Ahi Land Mobilization group and chairman of Limki Mambu Gravel Supplies.
Ngandang said he had been working with other landowners from the six Ahi villages to lease their land out for development purposes and to stop the selling of their land.
He said he had made it known to the settlers that he wanted them to move off his land so he could put up his housing scheme but he had not evicted anyone forcibly as was claimed.
“There were no fights whatsoever. The land issue is a very sensitive topic and whoever claimed in the media that I had destroyed their food gardens should be ashamed of going to the media instead of coming to see me so we could resolve the matter peacefully,” he said.
“You settled on my land for free and now you want to paint a bad image of me?”
Ngandang said he and his family wanted to make peace with the settlers and called for a gathering so he could lay out his plans but no settlers or their leaders had turned up.