Tag Archives: Customary land

Wafi-Golpu land dispute: The other side of the story

Lorenitz Gaius | The National aka The Loggers Times | March 18, 2019

IT appears that some people, like one PK Anding, had lately, been vocal and supportive of the Piu Incorporated Land Group’s claim of ownership of the Wafi-Golpu project land. PK Anding had even gone as far as to mention that the Lutheran Church had written to the prime minister informing him of its support of Piu’s claim of ownership.

Further to my previous letter to the editor, I briefly mentioned that the claim by the Piu Incorporated Land Group, led by chairman Martin Tapei, was thrown out by the Supreme Court. A brief synopsis of the case is provided below for anyone out there to appreciate the origin of the Piu Incorporated Land Group claims of ownership over the 50,000 hectares of customary land.

On Feb 22, 2001, Piu ILG applied to the Department of Lands and Physical Planning for a special agricultural business lease (SABL) over the Wafi-Golpu project land comprising of 6240 hectares. This was done without the knowledge of the people of Yanta, Hengaybu and Babuaf people, including the other seven villages in the area.

On July 24, 2001, an SABL lease was granted to the Piu ILG by the minister for lands under the Land Act comprising of 50,000 hectares instead of the 6240 hectares applied for. This grant was vehemently disputed by the Yanta, Hengabu, Babuaf people as well as the other known seven villages within the area.

On May 18, 2003, following pressures and protests by these groups within the 50,000 hectares of land, the new minister for lands and physical planning intervened and revoked Piu’s SABL lease. His decision was based on the non-compliance of the requirements and provisions of the Land Act under Section 10 and 102.

On Nov 19, 2004, the Piu ILG, not satisfied with the minister’s revocation of its SABL lease, applied to the National Court for judicial review for which leave was granted on May 5, 2005. The minister’s revocation was cancelled and Piu’s ILG title was restored, albeit temporarily.

On Aug 29, 2005, Yanta, Hengabu, Babuaf and Towangola appealed to the Supreme Court for a judicial review of the National Court order of Aug 18, 2004. The appeal was upheld and the National Court judgment was declared void, and the SABL lease granted to Piu on July 24, 2001, was declared null and void.

So to whoever is still supporting the Piu ILG claims of ownership over the Wafi-Golpu project land, I hope the above information gives you a clear picture of the situation. Questions should be asked about how Piu’s claim of 6240 hectares ended up with 50,000 hectares of customary land, especially when the land is communally owned?

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Landowners have no rights over old Basamuk camp says MRA

Landowners claim Highlands Pacific promised them a school and sports ground on land where MCC is now building an accommodation block and refuelling station… 

Post Courier | April 6, 2018

Mineral Resources Authority managing director, Philip Samar clarified that Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Limited still holds the lease for mining purpose to portion four which was the old camp at Basamuk in Rai Coast distict, Madang Province.
Mr Samar was responding to a petition by a group who claimed to be Lands Title Commission (LTC) declared landowners of Basamuk who petitioned the State and the developer over business opportunities, compensation, environment damages and other issues.
The vice president of Ramu NiCo (MCC), Wang Baowen also attended the meeting.
In one of their petitions, the group claimed that a portion of land which was previously used as the accommodation camp during the construction phase is currently being developed without their consent.
This was after Ramu NiCo had moved its workers accommodation to a new location adjacent to Yaganon river.
However, MCC community affairs general manager, Martin Paining clarified to the people that, that particular portion concerned is still within lease for mining purpose (LMP), and there was no specific agreement signed previously that after the construction, the land would return to the traditional landowners.
One of the landowners argued that initially the then previous developer, Highlands Pacific Limited (HPL) had planned to build a school and a sporting field on that portion of land.
However, locals have witnessed new accommodation quarters being built and also a fuel refueling station being erected within that portion of land.
Mr Samar in supporting Mr Paining pointed out that Ramu NiCo had the license to operate and so long as they have the lease they can do anything on the land.
He said under the LMP which had been transferred from HPL to MCC, the current developer the license is still valid and the developer can do any development of that portion of land.
“There was no agreement which states that after the construction phase, the land goes back to the traditional landowners.”

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Hidden Valley Landowners Want Minister To Intervene

Frank Rai | Post Courier | February 1, 2018

A local landowner group from the Hidden Valley Gold mine in Morobe province have called on the Minister for Lands and Physical Planning to intervene and stop a dubious land deal between a certain group and public servants over the existing mining lease area.
The Nauti Landowners Grievance Committee of Nauti village in Hidden Valley made the call yesterday after several attempts made to the Department of National Lands and Physical Planning and the Registrar of Incorporated Land Group to cease the issuance of an ILG Certificate have fallen on deaf ears.
According to a National Gazette published on March 30, 2016 – a Nautiya Land Group Incorporated was recognised as an ILG of the same demarcated boundaries of Hidden Valley Gold mine.
Committee chairman Ben Joseph said they lodged a formal complaint with supporting documentations with the Registrar of ILG and the Department of National Lands and Physical Planning to halt the awarding of the ILG in question since March 2017 but to no avail.
“The department is not responding or corresponding with us (Nauti Landowners). Our attempts have fallen on deaf ears so we a now calling on the Minister for Lands and Physical Planning Justin Tkatchenko to use his ministerial power to intervene, put a stop and investigate those responsible for the issue of this dubious ILG certificate,” Mr Joseph said.
He said the Nauti landowners Grievance Committee officially wrote to the Minister in September last year (Sept 28, 2017) for his ministerial intervention to launch an investigation and hold those responsible for exploiting and abusing the process of Customary Land Registration.
The chairman said the matter was of grave concern because of the validity on how Nautiya Land Group was awarded ILG certificate despite some iconic landmark features like the Hidden Valley Gold mine and a 1987 Provincial Land Court Decision that has competently identified customary landowners of the mine.
Mr Joseph said the land was owned by Yatavo Family of Nauti village which is from the Northwest part of the mine and the Biangais of Kwembu and Winima villages of Wau towards Southeast part of the mine.
He said the Nauti, Kwembu and Winima were the current beneficiaries and parties to the Hidden Valley Gold mine under the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) signed in August 5 2005 and the Royalty Distribution Agreement signed in September 15, 2009.
All relevant documentation including correspondence to the Director of Customary Lands Registration, Registrar for Incorporated Land Group, Minister for National Lands and Physical Planning, dating back to March last year were sighted by this reporter.
“There is evident that there was no proper consultation and verification of important detracting features made by the Nautiya Land Group leaders and the designated Government Officers which inevitably is a normal requirement in processing any ILG in the country,” Mr Joseph said.
He added that the oversight of a high government impact project of national interest by government employees and the Nautiya Land Group is completely incomprehensible, unscrupulous and deceptive with intentions to a disrupt major government project.
Mr Joseph appealed to the Minister for Lands to come down hard on those responsible and revoke the issuance of ILG certificate to Nautiya Land Group to avoid further inconveniences.

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Donigi responds to Anderson on land: ‘Mining industry promoting fear’

Masalai blog

In response to the statement by the Chamber of Mines and Petroleum about their desired outcome at the Sydney Conference, Ambassador Donigi the designer of the Boka Kondra Bills said,

“Mr Anderson and his people are purveyors of scare tactics and are engaging in misrepresentation of the Boka Kondra Bills. They do not want us to preserve our customary law which has served us since time immemorial. Mr Anderson used to be a government officer who influenced the current regime and is now defending the regime from outside government. As a former government officer he and others like him created a regime that benefited foreign capital, a regime that brings in the idea of horizontal boundaries that do not exist in our customary law. Customary law only recognises vertical boundaries to the centre of the earth in relation to ownership of land. They created a regime that will foster fighting between our people while they benefit.. His personal credibility is at stake. He is engaging in the tactics of projecting fear – whose fear – it is his and foreign capital.  In the end he will lose – and it will not be too long in coming.”

“Our politicians have to decide whether they will make laws that they were elected to make for the benefit of our people or make laws that will benefit those who do not have a right to vote at our elections but stake their profits on our politicians’ weaknesses. The strength of this nation depends on how we manage our resources for the benefit of landowners – not on how we manage our resources for the benefit of foreign capital.”

“Our people are now more educated than 36 years ago. That is a generation and half. Why would you want to retain a regime that says that you have to go overseas to borrow money to buy back a percentage of what you already own? When you borrow money to buy back what you already own, you create a liability for our future generations and transfer capital which could be better spent internally, overseas. It fosters an outcome of keeping the foreign capital rich and keeping land-owners poor. This is stupidity at its highest level.”

“Anderson says that the provincial and national governments will not benefit from a change in the laws. He is pulling the wool over people’s eyes. Kondra Bills says that the national government will actually make more money than under current regime through taxation without having to borrow money to pay for its equity. The provincial governments will get 4% of the stake and Local-level Governments will be guaranteed 1%.  In fact foreign companies take home pay after taxes will be more than 29% and landowners will earn 28% after taxes and the government will get close to 40% based on 30% corporate tax and 17% withholding taxes. The government will be the biggest winner. This is a win/win outcome not the current win/lose outcome. Anderson is lying through his teeth.”

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