Police in the Nations Capital, Port Moresby will continue with an eviction exercise that started this week at the Garden Hills removing illegal settlers.
In a statement, police said they were acting on a legally obtained court order which must be respected unless there is a restraining order preventing the eviction.
“Anyone who attempts to or stops an eviction exercise based on court orders is liable to be held for contempt of court.” The statement said.
This is the stance the NCD police command is taking at the back of an attempt by Prime Minister James Marape to halt the eviction exercise and allow Lands Department and City Hall to intervene to ensure a plan is in place for the resettlement of the displaced families in the demolished settlements.
The Prime Minister said his instructions are now with the Department of Lands to find vacant state land and put into motion the relocation of settlers as part of the programme to convert settlements into suburbs.
He said this is the government policy and is in line with the National Capital District Commission efforts to convert settlements to suburbs for existing settlements. The Prime Minister said people who are misplaced would be relocated properly if they are employed or have lived in city for more than one generation.
“I understand the frustrations proper title holders have with respect to settlements over their respective titles but ample warning and time must be given to people as well as working with city authorities to ensure minimal or no social and welfare issues will affect displaced families, especially at this time of Christmas,” Mr Marape said.
“For Garden Hills, I have been informed of the court order and have instructed my office to intervene to halt the eviction until we are able to move the people properly to new sites if they are employed or have SMEs.”
“For those second to third generation settlers, we will also give due consideration. “Recent city immigrants will be relocated back to their respective home districts so we can ease pressure on the socio-economic life in Port Moresby.”
Meanwhile, PM Marape is setting up a task force to be headed by the Housing and Urbanisation Minister to look into converting settlement properties into titled properties for those who can fully justify their living in cities and towns.
Picture: courtesy: Lawrence Lai Aipit