By Miriam Zarriga and Clifford Faiparik
About 400 squatters in Papua New Guinea watched helplessly as excavators demolished their homes and properties to make way for the construction of a K100 million four-lane road outside the capital of Port Moresby.
Police were present to ensure that the court-ordered eviction at 14-Mile on the border of the Moresby North East electorate and the Kairuku-Hiri district of Central was carried out by the National Capital District Commission (NCDC) on Tuesday.
Assistant Police Commissioner Anthony Wagambie Jr, the police commander for Central and NCD, said police would be involved only if evictions were ordered by the court.
“The eviction at 14-Mile instituted by the NCDC and police was only following what is in the court order,” he said.
“Police are not carrying out the eviction.
“I have directed that they provide security and ensure it is done peacefully.
“We understand that over a period of time people have built houses on the land.
‘Police have a duty’
“But police have a duty to enforce the court order or be held in contempt otherwise.”
National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop had earlier met with representatives of the settlers.
“The settlers were given a notice in 2018. At that time there were not many settlers.
“We had plans for the initial settlers but instead of cooperating with us they took us to court,” he said.
The families confronted Moresby North East MP John Kaupa who they claimed had promised them they would not be evicted.
Last month, the settlers sought a stay order on the eviction from the court.
But on September 21, the NCDC was allowed by the court to go ahead with the eviction.
It ordered the squatters to vacate the piece of land and not to threaten, interfere, disrupt and harass NCDC officers.
The families accused Kaupa of giving them “false hope” last week that they would not be evicted.
But Kaupa assured them he had done everything he could to stop the eviction.
He advised them to see Parkop and Moresby South MP Justin Tkatchenko.
Landowner Rachael Keaka said she could not believe that the government was evicting her from her ancestral land.
The Pacfic Media Centre republishes The National articles with permission.