THE NEXT O'NEILL LAND GRABS HAVE BEGUN
Motu-Koitabu customary landowners around Port Moresby and Ahi landowners around Lae face new land grab threats if Peter O’Neill and his PNC party are re-elected this year.
Customary land in the two cities is the choice target to be the home of new factories, offices and residential areas planned through his Small-Medium Enterprise Policy and Master Plan.
In addition, Motu-Koitabu landowners face further threats from NCDC’s Poreporena-Napa Napa Local Development Plan, which was publicly revealed only after the election of the O’Neill Government in 2012. It had been kept secret by Governor Powes Parkop in the lead-up to the election.
Parkop, O’Neill, his crooked lawyer friend Jimmy Maladina, their former partner in crime Ben Micah MP, and their political and business cronies, have been working on ways to profit from the redevelopment of Port Moresby.
They have been doing so mainly through kickbacks from inflated contracts, secret participation in property deals or by tipping off friends and cronies who can then share in the millions of kina they make from land grabs like Manumanu and Paga Hill.
Their focus has been on Paga Hill, which has netted them tens of millions of kina in secret commissions, secret kickbacks and profits from secret participation through third parties and other intermediaries.
Their next aim is to rip off millions from the redevelopment of the Port Moresby Port area, and through the next phase of the Poreporena-Napa Napa Development Plan.
THE POREPORENA-NAPA NAPA DEVELOPMENT PLAN
Work under the plan has already begun on the western and northern side of Fairfax harbor for the PNG LNG gas project and the O’Neill Government’s purchase of the Motukea wharf.
But that is only a small part of the overall plan, and future progress depends on large-scale acquisition of customary land.
The plan states, in Section 3.4, Customary Land: “This plan anticipates the co-ordination and mobilisation of large areas of customary land.
“It is expected that the publication of this plan will help to focus efforts for co-ordination and mobilisation. This will entail the formation of landowner groupings (such as integrated land owner groups) and the formation of a properly resourced development authority to co-ordinate development efforts.”
The formation of ILGs is regarded by some land experts such as the head of the Customary Land Law Foundation, Dr Onne Rageau, as opening the door to illegal land grabs. He argues that registration strips away customary title, opening the way for the O’Neill Government and its cronies to take control.
The formation of ILGs is also the device through which the SME Policy and Master Plan intend to dispossess customary landowners.
The Poreporena-Napa Napa Development plan will have very harsh impacts on the traditional Motu-Koita villages.
It states that the Predominant Activities (for Poreporena Villages (Konedobu, Hohodae, Hanuabada, Elevala, Kariu, Gabi, Madai, Badihagwa, Hagara and Ginigini) will be a “mix of low intensity and small scale activities, predominantly residential mixed with small scale and compatible retail and commercial development including work and residential uses.”
Mixed use and commercial activities are planned along Boe Vagi Road as a public transport corridor with higher activity.
Tatana Island would be swallowed up on the south side from Idubada northwards with proposed port/harbor developments.
“Land tenure in the plan area is predominantly customary. Within the customary lands there is extensive unplanned and uncontrolled development,” the plan states.
“While there have been numerous integrated land owner groups formed in recent years, there is also considerable contest over land in the area.
“It is also the case that there has not been comprehensive social mapping for the plan area.
“The resolution of the land tenure to allow stable and equitable development in the plan area is the greatest challenge to the implementation of the plan.”
In other words, Motu-Koita customary landowners will be left with no choice but to lose their birthright.
THE SME POLICY AND MASTER PLAN
Parts of O’Neill’s SME Policy and Master Plan are also already being implemented.
The Lands Department and the SME Corporation – chaired by the Prime Minister himself – have begun work on identifying land to be compulsorily acquired.
The wide-ranging World-Bank style land grab is due to start later this year – after the election.
Port Moresby and Lae customary landowners stand to lose many thousands of hectares of their land through compulsory acquisition with the bare minimum of compensation.
Or they face dispossession by the Prime Minister’s political and business cronies through illegal land grabs such as has occurred at Manumanu and Paga Hill.
According to a post on PNG Blogs last year, the big SME Policy winners are expected to be political cronies who support him through the election, and the usual big businesses such as the Constantinou family, the Cragnolini family, corrupt lawyer Jimmy Maladina and all the rest of the criminal parasites attached to the Prime Minister.
“Customary landowners will be left with no land and a few crumbs from the business feast,” PNG Blogs WROTE.
“Item 3.7 of the SME Master Plan states that beginning in 2016 the Government will start providing financial support to the Lands Department ‘to acquire customary land’.
“Sources within the Lands Department say that land identified by the O’Neill Regime as essential for business purposes will be taken over whether customary landowners agree or not.
“They will have no say in the price paid, and there are no avenues for them to appeal or oppose compulsory acquisition.
“Land that is acquired will then be handed over to business at discount prices or under special lease deals.”
The SME Policy and Master Plan states that the Lands Department is to “facilitate and make land available for development and use by SMEs under a new Land Act.”
The policy itself states that it is crucial “that land is made available for SMEs promotion and development through the key land reforms that are being instigated.
“Key land reforms by the Government … are now necessary and critical to make commercial land available and accessible by SMEs and to facilitate private sector development.”
O’Neill’s SME Policy and Master Plan provides no mechanisms for transparency and accountability of the acquisition process or the sale or leasing of customary land to business.
The policy is almost identical to the land mobilization strategy proposed by the World Bank in the mid 90s, but cancelled by former Prime Minister Bill Skate.
It is nothing more than a land grab for big business and political cronies, PNG Blogs wrote.