Garden Hills squatters evicted in Port Moresby crackdown on church land

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Armed PNG police on guard at the Garden Hills settlement eviction in Port Moresby yesterday. Image: PNG Post-Courier

By Marjorie Finkeo in Port Moresby

Hundreds of settlers from the controversial Garden Hills settlement along Waigani Drive in Papua New Guinea’s National Capital District (NCD) have been thrown out of their homes after a court order enforced by police.

Their homes on church-owned land were razed by bulldozers yesterday.

Policemen deployed at the eviction site told news media that they were acting on a 30-day eviction notice that had been given to the settlers to move out, but they had stayed on.

“We were given an order from the NCD-Central Command to provide security while the authorities carried out the eviction exercise,” a senior officer at the eviction site said.

Mothers and children sat on the road with their belongings, watching helplessly as their homes for more than 30 years was torn down by machines while armed policemen stood guard.

A few people were sorry to see the settlers kicked out and their homes torn down, but most city residents have been complaining over many years about “general lawlessness” caused by the settlers.

‘Crime hotspot’
Police have identified the settlement as a “crime hotspot”, with NCD Governor Powes Parkop vowing to remove the settlers.

In the most recent law and order situation in the settlement, two people were killed in a drunken brawl that got out of hand, with the settlers running amok in the Garden Hills estate, threatening and attacking residents.

Residents in the estate have lived in fear of being attacked or mugged by youths.

According to deputy commander of NCD-Central Command, Laimo Asi, the land belongs to the Assembly of God (AoG) church.

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A bulldozer at work in the Garden Hills estate eviction yesterday. Image: PNG Post-Courier

Laimo said an eviction order was given 30 days ago to the settlers living there.

“But they did not move so the church got an eviction order and police just enforced the order,” he said.

“Units were sent in to enforce the eviction order; there was a bit of resistance in the morning, but the situation is now under control.

“Police will continue to patrol the area.”

The settlement is one of the biggest and most notorious in NCD.

Governor promised squatters
Attempts to get comments from Governor Parkop yesterday were not successful.

Governor Parkop had promised squatters at Garden Hills a year ago that they would be relocated to Fareya behind the air transport squadron (ATS) at Eight Mile.

On December 15, 2020, the Post-Courier published an article quoting Parkop regarding the future of the squatters following mounting pressure by residents who fall victim daily to petty crimes by youths from the settlement.

After 12 months, the squatters were finally evicted in a massive eviction carried out yesterday.

Marjorie Finkeo is a PNG Post-Courier reporter. Republished with permission.

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