By JEFFREY ELAPA and HELEN TARAWA
ACTING Prime Minister Davis Steven has put on hold the eviction of around 2,000 tenants from a piece of land in Port Moresby, afterquestioning the legality of the process.
He also directed acting Police Commissioner Francis Tokura to stop the involvement of police in the dispute over the land formerly owned by the National Housing Corporation (NHC) at Gordon.
“We have one law and we expect the law enforcers to follow processes,” Steven said.
“The buyer (Mathew Minape who claims the NHC board granted him the title through the tender process in 2007) will also have to justify himself,” Steven said.
“But our concern is the involvement of police. Therefore (on Sunday night) I directed the police commissioner not to involve police and not to harass the citizens.”
Minape wants the tenants evicted after he was issued a demolition order by the National Capital District Commission building board to have the (former NHC) units at Section 97 Lot 30 removed.
The tenants however are refusing to move as they claim they have nowhere to relocate to.
On Monday, Steven intervened when the demolition exercise was to about to begin. The tenants also blocked the road when a group of men arrived accompanied by two excavators and a bulldozer.
There are eight blocks with a total of 64 units where the 2000-plus people are living.
Steven told the tenants to remain calm and avoid violence. He wants the issues resolved amicably.
He also said because there was no court order for the eviction, the police should stay out of the demolition exercise which could lead to the harassment of citizens.
“I stopped an impending confrontation between the people at Gordon flats and police on Monday morning (after) my briefing with relevant agencies the night before,” he said.
“I knew that the acting Police Commissioner had taken the position that the police were not going to be involved without a valid court order for the eviction touching the property in question.”
He said he was aware of the issues surrounding the “purported demolition orders issued by NCD”.
“In the circumstances, I had to assure our citizens that there was no need to be anxious or to build tension against the police,” he said.
“I didn’t want to see a flare-up of lawlessness in the city.”
Tenants’s spokesman Steven Mune has invited Minape to discuss the issue with the tenants and have them resettled somewhere.
Mune said they had been fighting their case in court over the past 11 years.
Electricity and water supply into the flats were cut off in 2015. The place was condemned by the City health authorities.