Wenge: I can’t move settlers

Lae News, Normal

The National, Wednesday, June 8th 2011

MOROBE Governor Luther Wenge says he does not have the power to legally remove all illegal settlements in Lae.
Morobeans made that call after a rampaging attack led by Kabwums against Western Highlands businesses and properties in the Back Road area in Lae.
The people turned their anger against Wenge, who is generally seen as a supporter of squatter settlements.
“I am not here to protect illegal settlements, no I’m not,” Wenge said, shifting the responsibility of evicting illegal settlers on the Back Road to the Kamkumung people whose traditional land is being taken up by block holders and settlers.
“The government and I have the power and jurisdiction to evict people living only on state land, not on customary land,” he said.
Back Road is not state land but customary land; don’t blame me it’s totally unfair,” he told reporters in a media conference yesterday at the Lae International Hotel.
Wenge said as governor he had no power, and that “it is up to the Ahi people who initially allowed people to settle to decide and then approach the courts and police to help them carry out evictions in the Back Road area”.
Kabwum MP and Defence Minister Bob Dadae, who was with the governor moments earlier, did not attend the conference.
Wenge challenged the Kabwums who want other illegal settlers to leave to “be man enough and take the lead in moving out” before the rest of illegal settlers from Morobe and other parts of the country follow suit.