Settlers’ cash crops damaged by landowners

National, Normal

MORE than 30 families at Speedway on the Independence Drive in Lae saw their cash crops cut and doors kicked after lunch on Saturday.
The settlers yesterday said that more than 20 villagers from Kamkumung armed with bush knives, accompanied fully armed police in a troop carrier and chopped down banana plants, coconut trees, and other crops.
They said they were seeking legal advice to restrain the principal landowner, a woman from Kamkumung, who sought their eviction.
They said they had an agreement with the woman’s father in the late 1990s to rent annually at K50 a block of about 300 square metres.
Besides, they said they also helped with gardening for the woman, contributed to the Lutheran church at Kamkumung, and paid for hospital bills as well as covered funeral costs of her relatives.
The settlers from Garaina, Finschhafen, Buang, and Menyamya in Morobe province, as well as others from East New Britain, Enga, East Sepik and Eastern Highlands provinces, live on about three acres of savannah grassland opposite the new Lae Biscuit Company factory.
The land was next to the Bumbu River and was prone to flooding, they said.