By Frank Rai in Port Moresby
National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop has lashed out at the Papua New Guinean Department of Lands and Physical Planning for failing to maintain and manage portions of land in urban centers for public use.
He said public space in NCD was “diminishing” and the department had not been helpful in retaining public land use over the years.
“I want to say that from the outset, public space in NCD is diminishing,” he said.
“The Department of Lands has not been helping us [NCDC] to manage public space properly, not just public recreational space but also spaces like drainage reserves, road reserves — a lot of other reserves are there for the benefit of the public,” Parkop said.
He said the continuous change to the Minister for Lands and Physical Planning and its Department Secretary over time by successive governments was also a contributing factor to a backlog of issues.
“The Department of Lands continues to override us, continues to ignore planning, zoning and the public interest. Not only on this occasion but many other occasions.
“I want to inform the general public that NCDC is here to ensure that all recreational parks will be maintained for the benefit of all the public.”
Jack Pidik Park controversy
Parkop raised his concern in relation to the controversy over the popular Jack Pidik Park that was formerly used as a recreational area.
“From the outset, we respect TST Group of Companies [responsible for a large development involving most of the part, we have no dispute and personal grudges with that but it is our responsibility as the government to protect the public and recreational space,” he said.
The governor claimed that the department had created the problem over time and it should be held accountable to “fix the problem”.
“The Jack Pidik Park was traded by the Minister for Lands or the government at that time without consulting NCDC.
“The national government made the decision and is the only one able to correct it,” he added.
Parkop also lashed out at the National Appeals Tribunal for overruling NCDC decisions on land issues.
“In the last two years, the company has appealed against our decision and the National Appeals Tribunal and sadly again, Department of Lands through the Appeal Tribunal overruled us (NCDC Physical Planning Board) and accepted the re-zoning for commercial purposes,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lands and Physical Planning Minister John Rosso said he was speaking to Governor Parkop and would address the land issues in NCD.
This content originally appeared on Asia Pacific Report and was authored by APR editor.