State leases are running out fast, claims governor

National, Normal

DISTRICT and local level government infrastructure in many areas are sitting on customary land because their 99-year government lease has expired without renewal, according to East Sepik Governor Peter Wararu.
Mr Wararu told Parliament yesterday that this was creating problems everywhere as traditional landowners sought back their land from the State.
In questions to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Lands Sir Puka Temu, Mr Wararu said in his Yangoru-Saussia district, East Sepik province, the Government station as well as established schools and hospitals were on land whose leases had expired and the traditional owners were now demanding this back for the sake of development.
He said with landowners demanding land back because the Government had failed to renew the lease, it had became difficult to ensure there was effective and efficient service delivery because the Government had no land to conduct business.
“I can’t understand why the Lands and Physical Planning Department officers have gone ahead to give land when we have no more land for serving the people in the rural areas, especially the LLG and the districts,” Mr Wararu said.
Sir Puka said the procedure that was required was that when once the 99-year lease expired, the State lease did not automatically revert to customary lease until a land investigation was done and a report presented to him.
“If the investigation report demonstrates that there is no development on the land, then landowners are given the land to develop under our new laws,” he said.