Rosso queries council land deal

National

By JUNIOR UKAHA
LAE MP John Rosso has raised concerns that people implicated in a recent audit report into the affairs of the Lae City Council have taken out a court order against a local company operating at the old Lae Airport land.
The Lae Urban local level government (LULLG) issued a summons to landowner company Riback Stevedores and its managing director George Gware for encroachment and interference.
The complainant, LULLG, took out an interim order from the court to restrain Riback and Gware from interfering with its work, to have them (defendants) evicted from the council land and have them give up possession of the council’s land immediately.
Riback, since 2009, leased eight allotments of the council’s land for K400,000 a month.
The LULLG had in 2016 signed a 35-year lease agreement with a Korean developer to develop the old Lae Airport.
The agreement was for the developer to build a hotel, a shopping mall and a warehouse on a build-operate and transfer (BOT) arrangement.
The value of the development is K500 million.
But Rosso said the contract was fraudulent and there were many flaws in it.
“They have signed a fraudulent contract,” he said.
“It is not in the best interest of the residents of Lae.
“I want to know how much the city is getting out of this deal.
“The people named in the investigations are the same ones pushing the deal.
Rosso said the deal was forced through so he needed to look through the agreement and ensure it was done in the best interest of Lae residents.
He said he wanted all deals regarding the council to be done transparently and properly.
Rosso said he wanted:

  • Due diligence to be followed;
  • BOT agreement that served the interest of the people of Lae; and,
  • That the agreement was right for the people of Lae.

Rosso said he did not want people bulldozing things under the table.
Gware said it was not the company that was obstructing the LULLG to bring in the developer but the landowners who wanted things to be done properly.
He said the company employed a lot of landowners and if they were evicted from the land, it would affect their revenue source.
“I’d like to make it clear that our employees have taken the matter to the relevant authorities when they saw that something was wrong,” he said.
“For some reasons, the council is targeting Riback and not the other companies who use this land.”

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