No land for business in Sepik

Momase, Normal

A SEPIK businessman in protest over land issues has threatened to block off his traditional land that will effectively shut down the portion of the Sepik Highway leading into Maprik township.
John Simon, the owner of Bebora Group of Companies, made the threat in a media conference last week in protest over lack of State land available to genuine businesses to conduct business in the two towns.
“I am putting my eight-tonne truck across the Patsy River Bridge and lining up all my eight vehicles on that road in protest over land issues.
“If the police want to burn them, let them burn because I am moving out of Sepik,” Mr Simon said.
He said the lack of land in Wewak and Maprik was a major concern as most land had already been bought by a handful of people.
“You cannot do business in Sepik because the environment is not good for local businesses.”
Mr Simon runs Debora Books and Office Supplies, and is involved in cocoa exports and hire-car business that has branches in Kokopo and Buka.
He said he had seriously thought about shutting down the shop and moving out of the province.
“Genuine Sepik businessmen have no land to do business in their own province and this is not good as we cannot provide service to our own people.”
Mr Simon said he had been in business for the past nine years and had been leasing land over that period  of time up until now.
“My problem now is I don’t have land to operate from in my own province whereas, in other provinces, it is okay for me to lease to do business,” he said.
He said since 2003, he has been going in and out of the Department of Lands placing his application for land but up until now, he has no title to a plot of land.
Mr Simon said he had met with Lands Department officers at Waigani to secure land but was not successful.
He said the last blow was when he was asked to vacate the property of Sepik Coffee Agmark Joint Venture in Maprik where he was leasing to do business.
He said the company was in liquidation and he was operating from that property until Maprik MP and Commerce and Industry Minister Gabriel Kapris got K6 million for the Cooperative Societies and put in K3 million to Pacific Agro Commodities to revive the cocoa industry in Sepik.
“I am from Maprik; for goodness sake, I cannot get land in Maprik to do business.
 “I provide the same service in supplying fementary kits, poly-bags and nursery to farmers but there is also no land available in Maprik to do business.”