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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.

Australia-PNG commercial alliance brutalises community defending National Laws

November 5, 2014 Leave a comment

On 1 July 2014, the Supreme Court overturned a decision by the National Court that granted permission to the Paga Hill Development Company (PHDC) to evict residents of the historic Paga Hill community. The Supreme Court decided that the residents lived on reclaimed land outside PHDC’s lease, and were therefore exempt from the National Court’s eviction order.

While the case was before the courts, the reclaimed land at the centre of this proceeding, was registered and leased by the government to Audayap No.5 Limited, a subsidiary of PHDC. The use of a subsidiary concealed the real owner in the gazettal notices, which would have tipped off Paga Hill’s lawyers.

Then on the 22nd of July, without court sanction, the NCD and the RPNGC, demolished homes on the reclaimed land, only weeks after the residents won their Supreme Court battle.

With help from the late Rtd Judge Mark Sevua, the community launched contempt proceeds on the 6th of October against the Australian CEO of PHDC, Gudmundur Fridrksson (PHDC), and the Australian run contractor Curtain Bros Ltd. Also cited in the contempt proceedings is Governor Powes Parkop, and NCD Beat Unit Senior Constable, Gene Punai, who has been overseeing the harassment of community leaders.

Paga Hill Contempt of Court

Just over a week after the contempt proceedings were launched, the RPNGC goon squad arrived at Paga Hill. They demolished the remaining homes, destroyed the historic church, and burnt the pre-school to the ground. The people have nothing now, no shelter, no place for their children to learn, no place to workship.

10 October Demolition 2014 2

This is raw power at work – its an Australian led commercial alliance, whose interests are being protected by police and the NCDC. And at the head of this Alliance is Gudmundur Fridriksson who has been slammed in 4 x Public Account Committee reports, 2 x Auditor General reports, and 1 x Commission of Inquiry.

Enjoying the fruits of their ‘labour’, NCD-Central Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner Jerry Frank (far left) and PHDC CEO Gummi Fridriksson (far right)

Enjoying the fruits of their ‘labour’, NCD-Central Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner Jerry Frank (far left) and PHDC CEO Gummi Fridriksson (far right)

Save Paga Hill, prosecute the guilty!

Statement of the Charges

Statement of the Charges 2

Port Moresby’s housing crisis just got worse – Duran Farm Development rotten to the core

November 3, 2014 11 comments

The National Housing Corporation and the National Housing Estate Limited are two of the most corrupt institutions in the nation. For years they have treated the national housing estate as the private property of senior executives. Public servants from around the country have been made homeless at the behest of NHC head, John Dege, so land and property can be sold off to foreign speculators.

housing project signing

So where do public servants go, and where do the nation’s booming number of urban working families go? Never fear, the NHC and NHEL will now be working with the private sector to build low cost housing.

In June this year the Prime Minister announced that NHC/NHEL would facilitate the construction of 40,000 houses at Duran farm outside Port Moresby, through offshore financing to the tune of K1.3 billion. Worried yet?

The contractor awarded the job do oversee this mammoth development was Niule No 16, a shelf company owned by PNG lawyer Henry Hennry and Australian businessman Kamran Samimi. Nuile No 16 claims to have secured US$500 million in financing, and a ‘world class’ construction company, China State Construction & Engineering Company.

Did we mention, China State Construction & Engineering Company has been blacklisted by the World Bank for fraud and corruption.

So lets recap, the O’Neill government, in a bid to counteract a major housing crisis, entrusts John Dege and cronies at the NHC/NHEL, who then proceed to contract with a shelf company, Nuile No. 16. This shelf company of two little known figures, has managed to secure half a billion US dollars finance, and a construction company blacklisted by the World Bank. Good.

Now only several months after the PM’s historic announcement, the joint venture has gone to the courts, with Nuile alleging that NHC/NHEL have a) illegally sold land to be used for the project, and b) made identical joint venture agreements with other players, in violation of their contractual obligations.

Their statement of claim is included below.

While the state fails to provide working families with an affordable housing solution, people are forced to subsist in settlements, living day to day, knowing that at any time their world could be turned upside down by a corrupt deal, and a criminal developer, come to grab the land, and burn out the community.

The citizens of this country deserve better!

Niule No. 16 v National Housing Corporation, the National Housing Estate Limited, and the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, WS 1136 of 2014

STATEMENT OF CLAIM

The Plaintiff, Niule No. 16 Limited is a duly incorporated company under the Companies Act 1997 (“Niule”).

At all material times to these proceedings the First Defendant, National Housing Corporation (“NHC”) is;

(i) a corporation established pursuant to Section 5 of the National Housing Corporation Act 1990 (the Act); and

(ii) amongst others as stipulated under the Act mandated to facilitate the development of a private market in low to mid-cost housing that is affordable for housing finance for low to medium income citizens of Papua New Guinea; and

(iii) is capable of suing and being sued in its corporate name under s. 5(1 )(e) of the Act.

The Second Defendant, National Housing Estate Ltd, (“NHEL”):

(i) is a company duly incorporated under the Companies Act; and

(ii) is the business/commercial arm of NHC; and

(iii) has been charged by NHC with, amongst others, the responsibility to provide affordable housing in Papua New Guinea; and

(iv) capable of suing and being sued in its corporate name

The Third Defendant is the Independent State of Papua New Guinea

One the 5th of September 2013, Niule, NHC and NHEL (the Parties) entered into a written joint venture Agreement (the Tripartite Agreement) for Niule to construct 30 000 low to medium cost residential homes in Port Moresby, National Capital District on land to be provided by NHEL (the land).

PARTICULARS OF THE TRIPARTITE AGREEMENT

(a) Niule and NHEL as joint ventures undertake to develop the land;

(b) NHC and NHEL are to make available to Niule 30,000 block of land for the development and construction of all civil works, infrastructure and the residential homes (cl. 7)(a) with 1,000 lots to be made available on or before 5th September 2014 and 5, 000 per annum thereafter (cl.7(b);

(c) NHC and NHEL to appoint and engage Niule as the exclusive contractor for planning, design, civil works and infrastructure development on the land (cl. 5);

(d) NHC and NHEL to appoint Niule as the exclusive contractor responsible for construction of dwelling houses on the land (cl. 6);

(e) NHEL to provide Niule a separate piece of land in its name upon which to construct a prefabrication factory for the construction and assembly of houses (cl. 8);

(f) NHC to meet regularly with Niule to determine the stages of the development, number and type of houses constructed at each stage and sale price (cl. 14);

(g) NHC and NHEL to make available to Niule land required as a lay-down area for the storage of materials plant and equipment (cl. 17);

(h) NHC to execute, sign and do all further or other acts, deed, documents, matters and things necessary, desirable or convenient to give effect to the provisions of the agreement and the matters and transactions contemplated by the agreement (cl. 29);

(i) NHC guarantees NHEL’s performance of and obligations under the terms of the Tripartite Agreement (cl. 35);

On 16th October 2013 Niule and NHC entered into a Deed of Guarantee with respect to the Tripartite Agreement (the Guarantee).

PARTICULARS OF GUARANTEE
Minister for Housing and Urbanization, Hon Paul Isikiel in his own capacity and for and on behalf of the State:

(a) Guaranteed NHEL and NHC’s performance of all of NHEL and NHC’s obligations under the Tripartite Agreement; and

(b) Indemnified Niule against any loss or damage it may suffer as result of NHEL and/or NHC’s failure to carry out all of their duties and obligations under the Tripartite Agreement.

On the 1st November 2013 the parties entered into and executed under seal the Supplementary Joint Venture Agreement in further performance of the parties obligations under the Tripartite Agreement and the Guarantee (Supplementary JV).

PARTICULARS OF SUPPLEMENTARY JOINT VENTURE

(a) The land upon which the development was to be carried out was to be Portion 528, Milinch Granville, Fourmil Moresby, National Capital District otherwise known as “Duran Farm” (rec 1) (the housing land);

(b) The Housing Land was to be provided to Niule to enable construction of infrastructure on the housing land and to construct thereon low/medium cost housing (rec. 2);

(c) NHC and NHEL to cause the transfer of Section 35 Allotment 03 Boroko, Granville, Moresby, National Capital District being all that land contained in Volume 45 Folio 224 comprising an area of 2.738 hectares to establish a factory for the manufacture and assembly of affordable houses (the factory land) (rec 3);

(d) By Deed of Guarantee & Indemnity dated 16 October 2013, The Independent State of Papua New Guinea through the Minister for Housing & Urban Development Hon. Paul Isikiel guaranteed & Indemnified Niule as to NHEL’s obligations and performance of the Tripartite Agreement (rec 4);

(e) NHC and NHEL to pay Niule directly for all civil works to be carried out on the housing hand (rec 5(c));

(f) NHC and NHEL to pay Niule a deposit not less than 40% of the costs of civil works on account of the costs of such works on or before January 2014 (rec 5(e);

(g) Upon receipt of invoices from Niule for civil and construction works, NHC and NHEL will pay in a prompt manner (rec. 5(f));

(h) NHC and NHEL take all necessary steps to facilitate Niule’s performance of civil and construction works (clause 8(j));

(i) NHC and NHEL to arrange for release of deposits from end buyers to Niule prior to beginning of construction to be uitilised by Niule to meet mobilization costs and expenses (clause 14);

(j) NHC and NHEL to grant Niule equitable interest in the Housing Land to enable Niule to use such title to the Housing Land as Security for any mortgage that Niule would seek to provide any third party financier or construction company (clause 15)

(k) To grant Niule “first right of option” for all infrastructure works on the housing land (clause 16)

(l) NHC and NHEL not to any time interfere with or obstruct any of Niule’s works on the housing land or elsewhere in Papua New Guinea, now or in the future (clause 18)

(m) NHC and NHEL not to compete with or have other compete with Niule either directly or indirectly with respect to any matter under the Tripartite Agreement or the Supplementary JV (clause 19).
In performance of its obligations under the Tripartite Agreement and the Supplementary JV, Niule has:

(a) Sourced international funding of up to US$500,000,000;

(b) Secured and obtained Venture Finance Insurance with SINOSUR an internationally renowned venture finance insurer for the developments;

(c) Secured China State Construction & Engineering Company (CSCEC) an international leading construction company to carry out the developments;

SINOSUR as a further requirements to underwriting the venture requested through Niule that NHC and NHEL provide an addendum to the Guarantee signed by both the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Housing along with a proper law clause and jurisdiction clause and the Defendants were required under the Tripartite Agreement and the Supplementary JV to secure execution of that Addendum but did not and have not done so.

NHC as part performance of its and NHEL’s obligations under the Tripartite and JV Agreement did on 9th January 2014 execute a Contract for Sale and Transfer Instrument with Niule in respect of the Factory Land to Niule with an undertaking to immediately effect a transfer of title to the Factory Land to Niule.

On around late May 2014, Niule discovered that the Factory Land had been sold by the NHEL and NHC to a third party for approximately K3.5 million.

On around early August 2014, Niule became aware that NHC and NHEL were about to sign contracts similar to those signed with Niule with a number of Chinese construction companies.

On 10 September 2014, the NHEL and NHC informed Niule in person that they had no intention of performing their obligations under the agreements signed with Niule.

The Defendants have also refused, neglected and/or failed to ensure the Addendum to Deed of Guarantee and Indemnity of 16 October 2013 was signed.

NHC and NHEL have therefore breached the Tripartite Agreement and the Supplementary Joint Venture Agreement.

PARTICULARS OF BREACH OF AGREEMENTS (TRIPARTITE & JV)
In breach of their obligations under the Tripartite Agreement and the Supplementary JV the Defendants have;
a) Failed to provide Niule the land on which to construct the residential houses
b) Failed to make available to Niule 1,000 lots on or before 5 September 2014 for the development and construction of houses;
c) failed to make available to Niule land as lay down area for storage;
d) entered into negotiations with other contractors and companies to undertake civil infrastructure works and construction of the houses on the land;
e) failed to pay Niule a deposit of not less than 40% of the cost of civil works; and
f) Failed to ensure the Addendum to the Deed was executed and provided to Niule.

On 4th June 2014 the Plaintiff issued the First and Second Defendants a Notice of misleading and deceptive conduct (the Breach Notice).

It was an expressed term and condition of the Supplementary JV that the parties acknowledged that damages would be an adequate remedy for any breach and that Niule was entitled to seek order for specific performance by the Defendants of their obligations under the Tripartite Agreement, the Guarantee and the Supplementary JV.

Throughout the period from November 2013 to the date of issue of these proceedings the Plaintiff has attempted to mediate the dispute the subject to the Breach Notice but the Defendants have failed to proceed with any bona fide attempt at resolution or any attempt at resolution of the dispute as set out in the Breach Notice.

Substantive

(i) An Order that the First and Second Defendants have breached the Joint Venture Agreement of 5 September 2013, the Guarantee of 1 October 2013 and the Supplementary Joint Venture Agreement of 1 November 2013.

(ii) An Order that the Joint Venture Agreement of 5 September 2013 is a valid and binding agreement enforceable as against the defendants.

(iii) An Order that the Guarantee of 16 October 2013 is a valid and enforceable deed enforceable as against the defendants

(iv) An Order that the Supplementary JV of 1 November 2013 is a valid and enforceable deed enforceable as against the Defendants.

(v) An Order for specific performance that the Defendants take all reasonable and appropriate steps to immediately rectify the respective breaches and fully perform their duties, responsibilities and obligations under the Joint Venture and Supplementary Joint Venture Agreements.

(vi) That the Defendants pay Niule damages caused by the notified breaches of the Joint Venture Agreement and the Supplementary JV. [Particulars of the damages to be provided prior to trial.

(vii) Special Damages. [Particulars of the damages to be provided prior to trial].

(viii) Costs of these proceedings.

(ix) Any other orders the Court deems appropriate.

Terror at Paga Hill Continues: Pre-School and Church levelled by Police

October 27, 2014 4 comments

10 October Demolition 2014 2

In July Port Moresby’s Paga Hill community won a long legal struggle against the Paga Hill ‘Development’ Company and its Australian CEO ‘Gummi’ Fridriksson.

The Supreme Court ruled that the community resided on reclaimed land outside the state lease which PHDC acquired, allegedly through ‘corrupt dealings’.

The community was saved. Or so it seemed.

10 October Demolition 2014 1

While the court case was proceeding, the reclaimed land was registered by the Department of Lands and leased for 99 years to a PHDC subsidiary, Audayap No.5 Limited.

The late Judge Mark Sevua advised the community that this was in contempt of court, a criminal offence. And like so many law abiding citizens the people of Paga have attempted to prosecute this potential breach of the law by a foreigner through the courts.

And yet it is these PNG citizens who have been subject to police violence.

10 October Demolition 2014 3

Two weeks ago, the RPNGC demolished homes on the reclaimed land at Paga Hill, destroyed for good the historic Church, and burnt down the local pre-school, all to assist a foreign businessman who has been slammed in 4 Public Accounts Committee reports, 2 Auditor General Reports and 1 Commission of Inquiry.

10 October Demolition 2014 4

Shining examples include:

  • The Auditor General alleges that K1,966,677 was wrongfully seized from the sale of deceased PNG estates, when Fridriksson’s company CCS Anvil was advising the Public Curators Office (CCS Anvil has acted as PHDC’s ‘project director’). The Auditor General also claims K4,872,375 in ‘unlawful’ payments were made to CCS Anvil by the Public Curators Office.
  • According to the Auditor General and Public Accounts Committee K79,500 in unlawful payments were made by the East Sepik Provincial government to CCS Anvil
  • According to the Public Accounts Committee K375,799 in unlawful payments were made by the Parliamentary Service to CCS Anvil.
  • According to evidence given to the judicial inquiry into the Department of Finance, CCS Anvil was paid a K1.4 million fee for allegedly advising a plaintiff to increase their fraudulent claim against the state from K900,000 to K4.4 million, which was illicitly settled by certain state officials out of court.

10 October Demolition 2014 6

Why would the police burn, and demolish homes owned by law abiding citizens, on behalf of a foreign individual who has allegedly misappropriated millions from the public purse?

Enjoying the fruits of their ‘labour’, NCD-Central Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner Jerry Frank (far left) and PHDC CEO Gummi Fridriksson (far right)

Enjoying the fruits of their ‘labour’, NCD-Central Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner Jerry Frank (far left) and PHDC CEO Gummi Fridriksson (far right)

These are worrying times!