October 1, 2019

Port Moresby Landowner Mouthpiece Motu Koita Assembly Protects Land Right

The mouthpiece of the traditional landowners of the nation’s capital, the Motu Koitabu Assembly (MKA), wants direct power over their own land.

They voice their stand today after the Lands Department wrote a letter to the Assembly informing them that the department holds the NCD Mediation Division on equal standing to the Motu Koita Assembly in respect to its powers to endorse and vet customary land.

Chairman of the Motu Koita Assembly Dadi Toka Jnr says MKA does not accept this.

Dadi Toka Jnr points out that the Motu Koita Assembly Act 2007 clearly empowers the MKA to be the Authority that the Department of Lands must involve in all dealings whatsoever with Customary Land in the NCD.

“The Motu Koita Assembly has not, will not, and does not allow its authority and powers or legal standing under the Motu Koita assembly Act 2007 to be devalued, relinquished, impeded or marginalized in any other manner,”said Dadi Toka.

Legal Counsell for the Motu Koita Assembly Nou Vada says the NCD Mediation Division’s opinion on customary land matters cannot be equal to that of the MKA, as they have no knowledge of the Motu Koita culture and land tenure system which could result in the alienation of large tracks of land, adding it’s already happening.

“It is one of the few ways we maintain control and prevent the flood gates from opening. We may have a divergence of opinion with our counterparts at the NCD Mediation Division and Lands Department may pick their opinion over ours but then we report to the people who will lose their land and not them, Mr Vada stressed.

Business representative in the Motu Koita Assembly Lohia Samuel says MKA remains the sole protector of its people’s customary land, especially the 40 percent that’s left.

Samuel said: “Most of our land were given to the colonial masters and they were supposed to be returned after their 100 year lease had expired and suddenly we see those land becoming state land, we will make sure this stops. Most of the businesses are on Motu Koita land but the Motu Koita Assembly gets nothing out of it. We will make sure proper compensation is given to our landowners. One of the most important thing is the stoppage of land grabbing and selling od our traditional land cheaply to outsiders.”

MKA has set up a Motu Koita Lands Office to take a leading role in customary land matters in NCD. FM100
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