Hundreds Successfully Relocated From Port Moresby’s Paga Hill

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Squatters given permanent blocks of land at 6-mile

By Malum Nalu

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Oct. 2, 2014) – Individual blocks of land at 6-Mile were yesterday handed out by Paga Hill Development Company (PHDC) to resettled households from Paga Hill.

Hundreds of people, including those resettled from Paga Hill, existing settlers, and guests packed the land at 6-Mile, known as Tagua, yesterday for the occasion.

Guests included Moresby North-East MP Labi Amaiu, United Nations resident coordinator Emansu-Roy Trivedy, French Ambassador Pascal Maubert, NCD-Central police commander Jerry Frank and other members of the police hierarchy, Korobosea customary landowner Martin Maraga Tabu, and former Moresby-South MP Dame Carol Kidu who had worked hard to make the project become a reality.

Chief executive of PHDC Gudmundur Fridriksson said it had been a long and difficult journey to get this far.

"Today, we formally assign all our rights to this 14ha of land to the individual families that have moved from Paga Hill and will now enjoy a block of land they can call their own," he said.

"It’s a significant milestone on what has been a 10-year long journey. "It started back in 2004 when PHDC in partnership with the Paga Hill settlement committee carried out a thorough social mapping of all informal settlement housing at Paga Hill. What flowed on from that study was the agreement that the parties would work together in peacefully relocating the people from Paga Hill to a more permanent location.

"This resulted in a formal agreement in early 2012 and now finally in the harmonious relocation of informal settlers from Paga Hill.

"As most of you will know, it has not been an easy journey, and we have much to share – from the initial tensions, mistrust, challenges and frustrations and then the emergence of a common agenda, harmony, development of friendships and ultimately what we have now, a start of a new beginning, with foundations laid for better things to come for each family and their children."

Fridriksson said what had been achieved at Tagua "is proof that harmonious resettlement can be achieved in PNG, and we urge the national government to develop a national resettlement policy to guide other resettlement projects in this country".

"We have documented the learnings from our experience to inform development of such a policy.

"Our experience has shown that a clear legal framework for converting customary land to leasehold is required.

"Today, as an interim solution, we have used simple long-term land use agreements to provide household tenure security.

"We encourage NCDC and the Department of Lands and Physical Planning to work closely with the Tagua community, via the newly-elected community development committee, to help interested households in obtaining title to their block of land."

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