Suspicious but booming ‘Torokina Real Estate’ in Madang
Leonard Fong Roka
A few minutes’ drive north of Madang Town there is a block of land with sprouting number of houses surrounded by coconut palms and squalid type homes of the indigene. And the strangeness of this place is that the locals are often wondering about this Bougainvillean name and that the regularly visiting Asian seems to be telling them that this is a Bougainvillean property.
A count gave me ten completed high standard family homes for rent to clients. The block of land is well secured by security fencing and within the perimeter the gardeners are doing the finest of jobs beautifying the housing project.I was lucky finally to get a clear view and inside stories that a premises gardener had for me while travelling with fellow Bougainvillean Divine Word University students.
And one noted fact is that the housing project is just a tip of the iceberg; there is evidence of expanding beyond the current stages.
To the workers there the business would be raking thousands of kina for Bougainville economy.
And according to the gardener and the main gate keeper, the origin of the project goes back to my homeland Bougainville and my government, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).
As the 2010 Bougainville election was stirring, the pair said, Henry Chow the owner of the Lae Biscuit Company in Lae contributed some money to President Dr. John Momis election project.
Thus this relationship paved the way for many development activities that the ABG is pursuing.
In 2012 the PNG national government made a funding commitment to allocate K500 million over a 5 year period to rehabilitate infrastructure throughout Bougainville and one of those was the Torokina oil palm project. And from this some money was diverted to Mr. Chow and that is now in this Torokina Real Estate, here in Madang.
According to these workers here, back in Bougainville, the feasibility study over the site in Torokina was previously done by a Siwai group and the report was presented to the ABG. But still the ABG ordered a bit for a next round of feasibility studies and this time the award went to Hakau Holdings, the subsidiary company of Lae Biscuit
And like many other Asian companies that toil and suck PNG wealth, Lae Biscuit, through Hakau Holdings has entered Bougainville to grow oil palm, and now have a shipping business known as the Chebu Shipping Company.Hakau Holdings undertook the feasibility studies and also took ownership to invest a part of what it is working on in the Ramu Valley of Madang Province to Torokina, Bougainville.
To the workers of Torokina Real Estate, they said, Bougainville is becoming rich by investing in oil palm in Torokina, real estate here in Madang that is creating them jobs, and the massive shipping industry they are hearing about with Mr. Henry Chow.
They said the Torokina Real Estate they working for is worth K7 to K9 million and it is managed by Henry Chow’s family members.