Women claim they were not consulted

National, Normal

The National, Thursday 10th November 2011

SOME women in East New Britain who hold land titles are complaining that they were not consulted about the Special Agriculture Business Lease in Pomio.
They claim that some men who did not own land had signed the declaration forms without their knowledge.
And the Commission of Inquiry hearing into the SABL at Kokopo has also found out that most of the signatures on the declaration forms were dominated by men.
East New Britain is one of the provinces which have matrilineal societies, meaning some women also own land and may pass them down to their daughters.
Making the comment on the second week of the Commission of Inquiry hearing in Kokopo yesterday, Commissioner Alois Jerewai said land ownership was passed on or received by women including land titles.
He said all signatories on the documents were those of men and therefore were useless.
Jerewai said signatures were important if they followed the respective customs and must include women who could possess land titles.
The witnesses were mostly women representing the four SABL areas in West Pomio including Portion 196c, Portion 197(c), Portion 198c and Portion 27c under the landowner company, Memalo Holdings Limited.
The women in the past two days and last week argued that their land was given away by men who were not the rightful landowners – under their matrilineal system.
And they said that there were no public awareness conducted by relevant government agencies in their villages to make them aware of what the SABL was and its processes.
They were not told that their land would be leased out to the project developer for 66 years and subject to be extended another 30 years.
Jerewai said there were allegations that almost 5.2 million hectares of customary land owned by Papua New Guineans could have been lost through SABL.
Provincial lands
officers that were engaged in the Land Investigation Report in Pomio are expected to be recalled today to give evidence in relation to Portion 197(c).
Jerewai also stressed that Incorporated Land Groups  themselves did not own customary land.
He said it was the responsibility of the members of the clan to come together and identify their customary land and form ILGs to enter commercial deals.