Real estate development is the push behind Port Moresby’s growth - Not Government

by DAVID LEPI
Descending into Jackson’s on a hot shimmering Port Moresby afternoon I see the once peculiar sun tanned brown savannah is now replaced by sprawling suburbs after suburbs of modern design of compelling style. The mirage or an optical illusion created by the hot surface below made it look like undulating waves of melting steel and glass cascading into an unforgiving white-hot furnace of the fast approaching tarmac. On the hills to the left, you see excavators carving terraces and flattening land for trenches for foundations, utility conduits, and drainage piping. And swarming with carpenters, electricians and plumbers and all manners of tradesmen eager to pitch in to permanently change the once periphery of National Capital District. This is the growth of a remarkable landmark that is now fast defining the Port Moresby landscape.

And who is behind all these concrete pouring and sounds of rhythmic hammers and whining power saws? Is it by some charity group or some long-lost ancestors from the papa lain? Of course not- who would want to throw away hard earned kina of quality abode for free?

It’s the real estate developers and their ingenuity. And thanks to Kennedy Estate for leading me through the arcane maze of the biggest gamblers of all the real estate developers. Real estate development is not just about mixing of one's labour with the land in order to achieve a predetermined end. It is a complex business and to start with one will require the knowledge of financing, legal restraints, business and market forecasting, and project supervision.

In urban centers like metro Port Moresby, it is quite challenging because development is often restricted by community zoning laws that segregate the uses of real estate (commercial, residential, recreational, etc.) into different "zones" and not to mention the politics that comes at a time. In order to change the use of a property, developers must usually receive permission from city planners and their uncanny rituals of compliance and rigid conformity.

It is a very risky business indeed. And it is a gamble in every sense where the developers purchase land and either create or renovate the property, risking their resources and capital in the hopes of investment reward.

Amidst the risk and high stake gamble developers such as Kennedy Estate, Glory Estate, Sky View Apartments or the state-owned Duran and Malolo Housing Projects believe that the newly designed and designated real estate will have sufficient value (and meet sufficient demand) to compensate for the time, labor and other resources devoted to the project.

These developments have completely changed what Port Moresby used to be. All these changes come about because of two things.

  • The high demand for affordable houses made possible by the high volume of liquidity in circulation from the government’s high expenditure and expansions programs finally putting money into the pockets of many ordinary Papua New Guineans.
  • The criss-cross of road network the government is putting in the nation’s capital as part of its infrastructure development agenda. Port Moresby will never be the same again. The road linkages have opened up once dead ends like June Valley now connected to downtown or connected trans suburbs like Gerehu and 9 Mile. These opened up new horizons of opportunity, prospectus and development.


Take Morata for instance. Once a periphery of the city and a no-go zone for many for its notoriety in crime- even the police wouldn’t dare to venture after dusk. Known as the home of crime kingpins and ruled by mobs and rascal gangs. And like the Hell’s Kitchen of New York, Morata was a city within a city where rules, governance and order that was applied to Port Moresby was totally nonexistence here rendering service and utility providers so difficult to collect rent and or upgrade their services.

Now with the road links from North Waigani to Gerehu, Gerehu – 9 Mile road and access to the Sir Hubert Murray Highway from Morata 3 and Wildlife, Morata has found its rebirth. Private entrepreneurs and even homeowners and ordinary families in Morata are now tapping into the booming market in real estate development in fixing and putting up their places for rent. The houses popping up in Morata’s suburbs are far divorced from the slums it was once used to be. These have become homes of the affluent and have quickly turned public perception, boosted confidence and very reassuring to the public now.

Morata is no longer the outskirt suburb of Port Moresby. Morata is now in the center of the fast-growing real estate and infrastructure development that is taking place around and within.

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