On winning whatever the price
Maybe all we can do is apologise

Today the bulldozers moved in on ATS

ATS Bulldozers move inKEITH JACKSON

NOOSA - In early May, Papua New Guinea prime minister James Marape seemed to move with lightning speed to stop a developer evicting residents and destroying homes at Port Moresby’s ATS settlement.

It was an illusion. The bulldozers moved in this morning.

The ATS land at 8 Mile in Port Moresby was traditionally owned by three Koari men who, in 1995, gave their consent to settlers from Oro Province to live on the land.

They were soon joined by migrants from many other parts of PNG, many of whom are unemployed and experience serious financial hardship.

In 2008, according to the Department of Lands, title was given to Dunlavin Limited, a Chinese development company. The circumstances were suspicious, as they so often are when it comes to urban land in PNG.

Work begins on dismantling the family home ahead of the bulldozers

There was a long court battle and title was eventually awarded to Dunlavin, which three months ago received a court order to evict people living on Portion 695 of the land.

The bulldozers moved in, catching the settlers unawares. A compromise was reached allowing them time to remove their possessions – including their houses.

“We helped to build a house there for my wife’s family 10 years ago,” I was told. “It was a much better investment than paying bride price.

“I was assured the family had been given the land title by a former owner, an uncle who was a surveyor.

ATS frame
Wantoks and neighbours helped take the house apart in an orderly way. This family found a new piece of land on which to rebuild

“Last week we had to help my wife’s family buy tools to dismantle the house before it was flattened.”

Another source told me: “It is corruption at play - politicians, Lands Department bureaucrats and pimps are united in this saga."

The stay of demolition allowed a few days for people to dismantle their houses without them being destroyed.

The people in this home have been fortunate enough to be offered another site from friends nearby where they it will be reassembled.

“The police said they would allow time for high covenant buildings to be taken down in an orderly manner rather than just be bulldozed,” a contact told me.

“I don’t envy them the work, but family and friends have rallied around to help.”

The frame came was taken apart yesterday.

The political promises to assist these people fell apart long ago.


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Philip Fitzpatrick

Thanks Daniel. I checked it out a bit further.

Puka Temu was actually the Lands Minister in 2008. He was replaced by Lucas Dekene in 2010 after he defected to Morauta's Opposition.

I wonder what Puka Temu knows about the land deal.

Daniel Kumbon

Here is more about Dakena from Wikipedia.....

Lucas Dawa Dekena (born 19 October 1967) is a Papua New Guinean politician. He was a member of the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea from 2007 to 2013, representing the electorate of Gumine Open, initially for the National Alliance Party but switching to the Papua New Guinea Party after the 2011 defeat of the Somare government.

He was Minister for Lands and Physical Planning under both Michael Somare and Peter O'Neill from 2010 to 2012. His name is spelled in various ways; he is also sometimes referred to as Dawa Lucas.

Dekena, a computer programmer prior to entering politics, was elected for the National Alliance Party at the 2007 election. He was appointed as Minister for Lands and Physical Planning under Michael Somare in August 2010.[3] He was one of several ministers to switch support to Peter O'Neill when he successfully ousted Somare in August 2011, and retained his portfolio in the new O'Neill government.

Dekena was re-elected at the 2012 election for the Papua New Guinea Party, after which he went into opposition and served as Shadow Minister for Lands and Physical Planning.

On 15 January 2013, Nick Kuman, who Dekena had defeated in 2007, successfully challenged Dekena's re-election in the National Court on the grounds of illegal marking of ballot papers; the court unseated Dekena and after a recount that November declared Kuman to have been rightfully elected. Dekena was denied leave to appeal to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Dekena was the candidate who turned up at the opening of parliament in 2017 claiming he had won the Gumine Open seat instead of Nick Kuman.

He claimed that he had beaten Nick Kuman after a returning officer mistakenly declared him the winner.

The case that Dekena brought against Kuman was dismissed as "incompetent" by the National Court.

Philip Fitzpatrick

These appalling situations are all too common in Port Moresby.

As in Australia, even a freehold title to land doesn't mean much if a government decides it wants it. The idea that anyone actually owns land anywhere is really delusional.

The Lands Minister in the Somare government at the time was Lucas Dekene, who I've never heard of. Maybe it would be worth finding out whether he was involved in the Dunlavin deal. The Opposition shadow minister was Theo Zurenouc.

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