Leader: Communities need compensation for losses


PAGA Hill community leader Allan Mogerama says communities welcome development but they need to be fairly compensated for losses.
“Our rights must be respected,” Mogerama said.
“The Government needs to do away with its tendency to allow foreign companies to deliberately displace its own people.
“The story of Paga Hill should be seen as a ‘cautionary tale’ for others to be prepared for forced development in Papua New Guinea and be one step ahead of what’s coming.”
He was responding to the release of a comprehensive report on the aftermath of community evictions at Paga Hill in Port Moresby on Tuesday.
The report explored the impact of forced evictions on people’s living conditions.
Titled Haus bagarap, Hevi kamap (Homes destroyed, livelihoods lost) – voices from the aftermath of community evictions and displacement at Paga Hill, the report examined the forced eviction of residents between 2012 and 2014, to clear the land for tourism development.
The research study, a joint collaboration between Aid/Watch Australia, Jubilee Australia Research Centre and the Paga Hill community, interviewed 190 former residents, detailing their previous and current living situations.
“Without their right to housing, many of their other basic rights have been undermined and compromised, including safety, appropriate sanitation and access to water and electricity,” Aid/Watch coordinator Natalie Lowrey said.
All of the former residents interviewed, had different levels of access to basic needs and rights, unlike their time at Paga Hill.
Since their displacement, 64 per cent of the interviewees said they did not feel safe in their new locations, which was something promised to them pre-eviction.
Forced from their homes in two series of evictions, the community settlement, which was once home to 3,000 people, was demolished with no promise of basic necessities upon relocation or proper compensation.
Former residents, now scattered throughout Gerehu and 6-Mile, are living on the streets and in other settlements with poor living conditions, and access to water and electricity are non-existent in some of the settlements.
“Our joint research reveals after the evictions, the Paga Hill community was displaced across Port Moresby and their living conditions were dramatically worsened,” Lowrey said.
The report recommended that the National Capital District Commission ensured that the Paga Hill community are provided with secure tenure and access to basic necessities such as water and electricity.
The authors further recommended that the National Capital District Commission and Paga Hill Development Company provide compensation for the destruction of the community’s property and possessions, citing PNG’s obligation under international law.
Executive director of Jubilee Australia Luke Fletcher, made reference to the 23,000 people since 2012, who have been threatened with evictions in Port Moresby and labelled the Paga Hill eviction as an “issue of great concern”.