Motu Koiatbu Assembly Chairman Dadi Toka, in its endeavor to reclaim customary land that have been acquired illegally or at well below market prices issued a stop work notice to Trans Wonderland Ltd through its Chairman Larry Andagali this afternoon.
In June this year, it was reported that the transport company purchased 20 hectares of customary land on the outskirts of Port Moresby for a reported K5 million. The much publicized transaction caught the ire of the public particularly Motu Koitabuans raising their anger not just for the sale but the ridiculous price paid for it.
TWL Managing Director, Larry Andagali, along with Board members signed a Purchasing Agreement with the Kaevaga Clan under the Incorporated Land Group 307. Here’s the video that appeared on TVWAN.
Toka in handing the stop work notice to Andagali stated that the TWL Chairman refused and disputed the notice saying the land was legally acquired and added that he will be immediately consulting with the company’s lawyers.
What is apparent now is that under Toka, Motu Koitabuans will be starting to push their agenda of reclaiming land that’s been sold illegally to protect their future.
The Motu Koitabu Assembly is also currently organizing a customary land forum expected to commence later this month with workshops currently underway in preparation for that all important event. The forum is expected to be hosted in most of the Motu Koitabu villages with an emphasis on educating Motu Koitabuans about their land and the need to protect it.
The Motu Koita Assembly is duly mandated under the Motu Koitabu Assembly Act to protect the interests of its people including its land and this step is a clear indication that under the current regime – protect they will.
It will be a much closely watched dispute and there is a good chance this matter will be heading towards the Courts.
One obvious issue that will be tested is whether a Customary land group can in fact sell its customary land outright.
Furthermore, given that the land is customary land there is of course the issue of whether physical planning permits are required for activities on customary land. At present, many customary land owners do not seek physical panning permits for buildings erected on their land.
Interesting times ahead.