Compulsory purchase scandal: Firewall Logistics warned not to deal with land group
The Department of Land has recently gazetted the compulsory purchase of 12.5 hectares of customary land known as Portion 2467C. The land lies between the Napanapa Oil Rifinery and the Exxon Mobil LNG plant just outside Port Moresby.
According to the notice signed by Lands Secretary Romilly Kila Pat, the compulsory purchase was made “for the purpose of a contract of sale agreement between Ohobiduduare Land Group of Roka Village and Firewall Logistics”.
Yet, according to media reports, the Central Provincial Lands Court in a ruling on 2nd September 2014, declared the Kuriu Clan as the major landowning group of Portion 2467C. The Court also found the land had been illegally registered under a Special Agriculture and Business Lease (SABL) by the Ohobiduduare Property Development Company.
The Central Provincial Lands Court ordered a number of companies, including Firewall Logistics, to stop making payments to the Ohobiduduare Property Development Company as they were illegally occupying land which the Ohobiduduare did not own.
Despite these findings it appears the Ohobiduduare are still claiming ownership on Portion 2467C and it is on the basis of those claims that the compulsory purchase order has been made.
In its company literature Firewall Logistics make a big play of its understanding of the importance of customary land ownership and the connection of people to their land. Firewall claims it is “passionate about community inclusion” and states:
“Doing business in PNG requires a high degree of community involvement. Inclusion lies at the very core of our company DNA” which includes “demonstrating respect for the local landowners’ indisputable connection to their land”.
Time will surely reveal whether such commitments have been honored in the company’s acquisition of Portion 2467C. An acquisition made under the hand of Rimilly Kila Pat who has been linked to numerous unlawful and illegal land deals and was recommended for criminal prosecution for his role in the SABL land grab.