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UNDP head denies endorsing Paga Hill Development Company evictions

June 12, 2017 Leave a comment

Settlers moved from the foreshore at Paga Hill to the inland site of Gerehu, where they live in appalling conditions.  Photo: Aid Watch

Port Moresby settlers evicted to make way for Australian-backed development ‘abandoned’

Source: Heath Aston in Sydney Morning Herald

A majority of settlers evicted from a headland shanty town in Port Moresby to make way for a gated tourism and casino precinct backed by Australian property developers have been “simply abandoned”, with some now sleeping rough, according to human rights investigators.

Two Australian-run companies involved in moving squatters from waterfront Paga Hill and its foreshore between 2012 and 2014 dispute the numbers of people affected, but charities Aid Watch and Jubilee Australia claim 2000 of an estimated 3000 squatters were given no resettlement and in many cases no compensation, and up to 500 of those could be living on the streets of the capital.

They have also raised questions about the claimed success of resettlement programs for those relocated to make way for a gated waterfront estate that the PNG government has earmarked as a likely setting for the 2018 APEC conference of world leaders.

Australia is spending about $100 million to support the Port Moresby APEC summit, with a particular focus on security through the ongoing presence of the Australian Federal Police in PNG.

The brochure for the Paga Hill development showing the headland that has been cleared for development. Photo: Paga Hill Development Company

Former prime minister Tony Abbott said APEC would be “an important coming of age for PNG”.

Australian mining company Oil Search is building a floating reception centre to be called APEC Haus at the Paga Hill headland.

Human rights lawyer Brynn O’Brien, who is writing a report for Jubilee and Aid Watch, said Australia had a responsibility to the people of Paga Hill if it was backing the APEC meeting with public money.

“The Australian government should make a commitment not to support any event held on land associated with human rights violations until people have been resettled,” she told Fairfax Media.

Six Mile, another site were people were moved to. Photo: Aid Watch

“The majority of people were simply abandoned and a significant proportion of those, perhaps a quarter, are living under bridges, under buildings.”

The evictions, conducted with the support of armed PNG police, were raised at a recent senate estimates hearing where the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s first assistant secretary, Pacific division, Daniel Sloper, said it was not Australia’s responsibility.

Another humpy at Gerehu. Photo: Aid Watch

“Certainly there have been areas and villages that have moved on. I am not denying that at all,” he said.

“My only point was that was a responsibility of the PNG government rather than a responsibility of the Australian government.”

Paga Hill was once the focal point of Australia’s World War II defence of Port Moresby. The thousands of settlers who moved there in the decades after 1945 became known as “bunker people” for their use of abandoned wartime fortifications to create makeshift homes.

The Paga Hill Development Company is run by Icelandic-Australian businessman Gudmundur “Gummi” Fridriksson, a former chief executive of Noel Pearson’s Cape York Institute.

Last year Fairfax Media revealed a legal wrangle in which one PNG’s most revered former politicians, Carol Kidu, and the Paga Hill Development Company sought to block the release of an Australian documentary, The Opposition, about local resistance to the evictions.

Ms O’Brien interviewed people who were moved from the foreshore by Townsville-based civil contractors Curtain Bros, with the support of PNG’s National Capital District Commission to an area called Gerehu on the outskirts of Port Moresby.

She found at least 600 people living in homes made from “pieces of wood, sticks, fibro, sheet metal, tarpaulins” and without power or running water.

“At Gerehu lots of the adults and children are noticeably thin even by PNG standards, they appear malnourished. At Paga Hill their main source of protein was fish caught from the sea but this site is inland with no reliable public transport” she said.

Curtain Bros did not return calls.

At another resettlement site, known as Six Mile, the original facilities built by PHDC in 2014 are badly run down. The company offered resettlement of cash compensation for people living on the hill rather than those living on the foreshore and in other areas.

Of the estimated 400 people at Six Mile, according to Ms O’Brien, most remain in temporary accommodation – tents under a steel shed roof – because they can’t afford to enter into the “land use agreements” that were offered.

A Paga Hill Development Company spokesman said:

“PHDC cannot be held responsible for the relocation site almost three years after it was formally handed over in October 2014 to UN acclaim.”

The UN’s support for the project is in dispute.

Roy Trivedy, the United Nations’ resident co-ordinator in PNG, said he attended one meeting where he was impressed with written plans for the resettlement but has not been involved in anything to do with Paga Hill since.

“I’ve asked the company to stop using my name to endorse something I haven’t seen,” he said.

Paga Hill demolition in blatant violation of Constitution says retired judge

August 4, 2014 2 comments

JUDGE MARK SEVUA Rtd

Judge Mark SevuaOn Tuesday morning, 22 July 2014; NCDC Officials with the assistance of armed Police, Paga Hill Development Company and Curtain Bros demolished the SDA Church located at Paga Point together with the shelters of the Settlers on the Reclaimed Land below Paga Hill at Paga Point. The demolition and destruction of the Church and the Settlers’ shelters were carried out without any consideration of human dignity and the interest and welfare of the affected citizens. This is a blatant violation of the Constitution!! !!!!

It is quite amazing that a person of the calibre of Powes Parkop, the NCD Governor, who used to be describe himself as a champion of “Human Rights” could authorise his employees and henchmen to destroy the Church and the Settlers’ life with the use of armed police, without any human consideration at all. I only wish that the three World War 2 bombs had exploded that day and destroy all those involved in the destruction of this area!!!!!!!!!!!

Where was NCDC when this area was filled by extracted rocks and soil from the Burns Peak Poreporena Freeway construction in the late 70s????? When did NCDC declare the Reclaimed Land at Paga Point to be “Part Commercial, Part Public Utilities and Part Open Space” ????? If NCDC claims title to the Reclaimed Land, why did it not prevent the Settlers from moving onto the Reclaimed Land from the start, when the area was filled????????

These citizens have been residing on this Reclaimed Land for many years without interference by any authority. The eviction exercise initiated by Paga Hill Development Company was wrong in the first place. Even the National Court Order to give vacant possession of Portion 1597 including the Reclaimed Land was also wrong. As determined by the Supreme Court on 1 July 2014, such order given by the National Court on 29th January 2014 excludes the area known as the Reclaimed Land. The reason is simple- Portion 1597 did not, does not, and never include the Reclaimed Land. Up to today, some Settlers are still residing on the Reclaimed Land under sun, wind and cold because they have nowhere to go. The destruction of their homes was done in haste and without affording them ample opportunity to relocate. NCDC headed by the so called “Human Rights” lawyer and Governor Powes Parkop must be held accountable for their employees’.actions, especially when there is a Supreme Court Order in place. I therefore call on the Governor of NCO, Curtain Bros, Paga Hill Development Company and the Police to compensate these Settlers who have fallen victims of the unconstitutional breaches by all those concerned. These Settlers are simple people, some unemployed, but they are nevertheless human beings and they deserved to be treated with human dignity.

It is ironic and quite sarcastic and stupid for Gudumundur Fridriksson to deny his company’s involvement when the Settlers have seen and identified Stanley Liria in company with NCDC and Curtain Bros employees in the area since the Supreme Court decision. The Settlers may be just ordinary people, but they are not stupid, and they know who Stanley Liria is.

I would suggest that the Settlers’ Lawyer should file contempt of court proceedings against Stanley Liria and his company and the others who have been involved in this destruction. Contempt of the Supreme Court Order is a very serious matter and hopefully the Supreme Court will deal with those who think they are smarter than the Supreme Court.

I condemn in the strongest terms possible the inhuman and unconstitutional treatment these ordinary Papua New Guineans have suffered at the hands of NCDC, Police, Curtain Bros and Paga Hill Development Company. I also condemn the unlawful use of threats and violence by armed policemen who behave as if they are above the law. They behave like armed criminals and

I call on Geoffrey Vaki and Jim Andrews to stop their armed thugs policemen from getting onto the sides of private companies and NCDC and to stop harassing unarmed civilians. Finally, I call of NCO Governor, Powes Parkop to apologise to the Settlers and compensate them for the damages inflicted on them through his employees. As a champion of human rights cause, he should be accountable for the abuse and breaches of human rights his employees had rendered to these simple innocent Papua New Guineans and o the right thing by these people who continue to suffer from the unconstitutional violations.

The Paga Hill demolition: Serious questions remain unanswered

July 31, 2014 2 comments

International State Crime Initiative

SCIA British based human rights research centre, the International State Crime Initiative, has raised concerns over the contradictory state-corporate response to the recent demolition exercise at Paga Hill.

The exercise left hundreds homeless, in addition to destroying WWII relics and a Seven-day Adventist Church.

It took place amidst multiple disputes over land at Paga Hill, an area which is currently earmarked for a ring road, in addition to a luxury real-estate project spearheaded by the Paga Hill Development Company.

ISCI researcher, Dr Kristian Lasslett, notes ‘this egregious demolition exercise appears to be something of an orphan. Governor Parkop has eschewed responsibility for the destruction, while the Paga Hill ring road contractor, Curtain Brothers, also denies involvement. So who then is responsible for vandalising priceless historical artefacts and destroying family homes?’

22 July Eviction

ISCI notes matters get even more confusing when attention is drawn to the legal status of the land on which the demolition took place.

‘For years the community at Paga Hill has contested an eviction order obtained by the Paga Hill Development Company. Those families living in lower Paga argue that their homes lie on reclaimed land outside the developer’s state lease. On the first of July this year, the Supreme Court made an order supporting the community’s argument’.

However, according to Dr Lasslett, ‘back in 2013 it appears that this reclaimed land was somehow surveyed and registered as Portion 3149 in Survey Plan Cat No.49/3107. Then in January this year the Land Board recommended that a Special Purpose Lease over the disputed land be awarded to Andayap No.5 Limited, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Paga Hill Development Company. This arrangement was formalised in a gazettal notice dated the 4th of June 2014’.

ISCI questions why the Supreme Court was not alerted to this arrangement given its direct relevance to the community’s appeal.

‘Even when responding to the 1st of July Supreme Court decision, PHDC failed to mention that it had acquired title over the reclaimed land’, Dr Lasslett observes.

‘Instead, we were lead to believe that only the NCDC and Curtain Brothers had a tangible interest. The community at Paga Hill are devastated. They can’t understand how land the subject of a Supreme Court hearing, could be leased out by the government to the respondent in the case, without the appellant being alerted’.

Dr Lasslett adds, ‘we note that the Paga Hill Development Company has condemned both the NCDC and Curtain Brothers for organising the demolition exercise. Yet the company has not explained how this demolition could occur on land it owns, without PHDC’s knowledge, nor have they denied organising an identical style demolition on the exact same portion of land – which at that stage they did not own – in May 2012. Their chutzpah is extraordinary’.

According to the NCDC some of those left homeless by the most recent exercise have been relocated to a small plot of state land at Gerehu Stage 6. One relocated resident informed ISCI, ‘its not OK, no toilets, no power, no water, no houses and it’s not safe’.

Dr Lasslett notes, ‘some families have been abruptly shunted off to land at 6-Mile and Gerehu by PHDC and the NCDC respectively, with promises of security. Yet it appears they have no enforceable tenure rights to either plot of land, and now live in a terminal state of uncertainty, without anything resembling adequate housing’.

Appendices – Documents Relating to Supreme Court action and land Portion 3149

1 Supreme Court Order 1 July 20141 pg1

2 Supreme Court Order 1 July 2014 pg2

3 Survey Plan Portion 3149

4 Gazettal_Notice_Portion_31491

5 Gazettal_Notice_Portion_31492

6 Gazettal_Notice_Portion_31493

7 Gazettal_Notice_Portion_31494

8 Entity_Extract-ANDAYAP_NO._5_LTD-1-885961

9 Entity_Extract-ANDAYAP_NO._5_LTD-1-885962

Pacific Games contract brings more rumours of corruption

September 6, 2013 19 comments

Bonip

I believe that the focus here should not be China Harbour Engineering Company. They are here to make money, by whatever means. We should instead scrutinise the actions of our leaders involved in the awarding of the contract, beginning of course with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Sports Minister Justin Tchenko. Given the bad or negative profiles of these Chinese companies how on earth did we give out such contracts. If there were any tender procedural issues or bending or breaking of our Public Finance Management Act then these two leaders are to be among those people we need to question.

What’s in it for them? K73 million?

Rumours are being circulated almost on a daily basis but no-one has come out to disprove or confirm them. To me it stinks when our leaders have been brought into question by their actions – whether genuine or not, the perception remains in our mind that something or someone stinks somewhere.

Whilst Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s anti-corruption pet the Task Force Sweep Team have been making a lot of noise – there has been over 60 arrests – but no conviction as yet. It leads me to draw the conclusion, whether true or not, that the team is basically a smoke screen for Prime Minister Peter O’Neill. There are numerous stories about the company that our Prime Minister keeps and the multi-million kina deals PNG has entered into.

Here are a few examples:


1. LNA Constructions was given a K24 million contract to tile the National Parliament without going through tender processes. The Principals of the company, Nii and Luciano Cragnolini as very close friends of the PM. Rumour has it that this money came from K54 million which the PM parked in the National Parliament Imprest Account during the political impasse. Part of the money was paid out to lawyers who defended O’Neill during the impasse. The Speaker of the National Parliament actually instituted an investigation into how the funds were spent but was threatened and abandoned the investigation.


2. LNA was awared a multi-million contract to rebuild the Pineapple building. Again, this is a company whose owners are very close friends of the PM; Was it tendered? If so can the details be made public for the people to see if the process was fair.


3. Curtain Brothers was awarded a K60-plus million contract to build a ring road around Paga Hill when the company which owns the land offered to do it for three times less. Rumours have it that the PM actually flew to Australia to give the cheque to the owner Mick Curtain. Don’t know what relationship the PM has with the Curtains but it makes no sense why build something for K60-plus million when you can do it for K20 million. Where is the additional K40 million going to?

4. Carson Pratt/Southwest Air. Rumours has it that PM O’Neill has amassed a huge personal fortune in the short time in office. Some say he is now worth between K300-K500 million. Rumour has it that he has bought out Carson Pratt/Southwest Air in Mendi for a substantial amount of money. Can this be confirmed? This we understand was in preparation to tap into the spin-offs from the K6 billion Chinese loan for the HIghlands Rehabilitation Program. Again, all rumours but if true, then this is something every thinking and concerned Papua New Guinean should be aware of. Do we need a Prime Minister who has personal business interests as well? Can he serve two masters?

5. Pokies. And lastly, it pains me to lean also that the Prime Minister and former Mendi Open MP Michael Nali own a pokies/club in Port Moresby. He says he is against gambling but does not hesitate to have them in his establishment.

Again, these are all rumours but would appreciate if someone can confirm or deny them.