Stop illegal land grabbing in city


THE illegal acquisition of land in our cities and towns has been an on-going problem since Independence.
Much of this problem can be attributed to urban drift or the migration of people from the rural areas to the urban centres.
Today, almost everywhere in Papua New Guinea, provinces have seen more than their fair share of squatter settlements popping up like mushrooms.
While the National Government will continue to face the social and economic issues and challenges associated with the uncontrolled movement of people to the cities and towns, urban authorities face an immediate shortage of land to accommodate the influx of people.
See what’s happening in Port Moresby, Lae and Madang.
Traditional landowners are offering their land for new settlements and business activities.
Settlements in Port Moresby and Lae will continue to flourish as more people rural people migrate to the cities in search of opportunities, whatever that may be.
The sale of traditional land has enabled the nation’s capital to experience rapid expansion as people move away from the city centre to live in the outskirts.
Some businesses have followed suit to open up the outlying areas between the National Capital District and Central.
Traditional landowners are entitled to sell or lease their land for housing or business purposes and many of them are now benefitting from such transactions.
In Papua New Guinea, customary landowners own 97 per cent of the total landmass while the Government own three per
Nonetheless, the illegal acquisition of State land continues
to be a thorn in the side of the National Government and its agencies.
In the National Capital District, the National Capital District Commission (NCDC) physical planning board is empowered under the Physical Planning Act with the determination of all physical planning matters within the nation’s capital.
This includes zoning of all land and any other developments in the NCD.
However, it seems the board has been caught off guard by the illegal acquisition of pieces of land that are part of public
parks and recreational areas in the city.
Some people are getting away with illegally acquiring pieces of state land that have been provided for recreational purposes and no one in the city’s largest suburb seems to care about it.
Dr Onne Rageau, PNG Customary Land Law Foundation director, has reportedly emphasised that the absence of customary land laws in the country is encouraging land grabbing and the unfair distribution of wealth and development.
This is making customary landowners become spectators in most developments and investments because there were no laws to protect customary land rights.
And so compulsory customary land registration should be conducted throughout the country to prevent land grabbing.
It is imperative that the Lands Department thoroughly investigates all cases of land-grabbing in the country and take urgent action to recover the land titles or leases that have been illegally obtained by unscrupulous people with the help of corrupt government officials.
Moreover, the political leadership must clamp down corrupt elements within the bureaucracy who are involved in the illegal acquisition of State land in our cities and towns.