24 Oct 2017

Efforts to salvage public land gain pace in PNG

8:25 am on 24 October 2017

Papua New Guinea's Lands Minister says he expects a legal challenge by a company claiming a title over public land he wants returned to the state.

Papua New Guinea Lands & Physical Planning Minister Justin Tkatchenko

Papua New Guinea Lands & Physical Planning Minister Justin Tkatchenko Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Two months into the job, Justin Tkatchenko said efforts to salvage public land misappropriated in PNG's capital are making headway.

One of the latest cases involves prime coastal land in Koki for which Malaysian-owned Kitogara Ltd gained a title.

Mr Tkatchenko said the title was illegally approved and relates to around an acre of reclaimed land intended for public, recreational use.

He said he was ready to forfeit the title, and get the land back to the state.

"I'll serve this forfeiture notice and all the rest.. and I'm sure they will legal up and go to court again. But you know, at the end of the day, the history of this piece of land is crystal clear. It's just an absolute mess of corruption. You know if they got the land properly and did it correctly, then I wouldn't have any issue. But someone in the Lands department decided to give them a title, which was just absolutely crazy. And this is just one of many examples that we'll be tackling and facing over the next years ahead."

Mr Tkatchenko said the National Capital District Commission Land Unit, which he recently set up, had processed over two dozen blocks of public land that were given away in fraudulent deals.

He expected several dozen more cases would be processed in the next year.

"I've signed off 26 titles already, for retrieving back public land, in the last six weeks. We plan to do another 70. And we plan to secure, I hope by the end of the year or early next year, all public space titled under NCD."

"And then from there we will go out to all the provinces and do exactly the same."

The Minister said that any Lands and Physical Planning Department officers found to have given away public land would be dealt with by the law.

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