By WANPIS AKO, FB
The National Capital District is fast running out of state lease land as the demand for its availability by various interest groups for development is very high.
Rural-urban migrants, who cannot afford to secure land tenure, squat on idle, undeveloped state lease land or customary land with unapproved and improper structures.
Most of their developments do not conform to the city’s urban planning; thus, defeating the principles of proper urban land-use which promotes desirable social and environmental outcomes for the city.
One fine example is the structural developments taking place at Taurama Valley and Tuna Bay.
Speaking at the Inaugural Lands Summit this month in Port Moresby, National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop highlighted how challenging it is for the municipal authority to provide electricity, telephone lines, proper access roads and drainages, sewerage and water supply in these areas.
Governor Parkop emphasised the importance of urban planning to address this issue and the rise in rural migration.
He used the occasion to flag the need for the National Government to take a lead role in establishing policies, administrative and legislative frameworks to address the issues.
“A proactive government intervention in policy, law, finance, management and implementation is needed for Port Moresby’s increasing population to achieve affordable housing and curb unplanned settlements,” he said.
Governor Parkop told the summit that the commission and his office were working on the Master Plan to curb the increasing urbanisation-related issues.
Urban planning holds the key to provide a conducive environment for the various interest groups to pursue their interests harmoniously and in an orderly manner.
It sees the city through the bird’s-eye view. It is a vehicle through which the city is driven.
Urbanisation, he said, is a global phenomenon, adding United Nations reports suggest the world has been urbanised by 60 percent.
Governor Parkop wants to see a one-stop shop for lands and physical planning board who can administer and manage land use to achieve the outcomes that he envisages for the city.
He admitted that urbanisation is leaving many people being deprived of basic utility services and that he has been working tirelessly to at least address it slowly but surely.
In partnership with the UN-Habitat, he started rolling out the Settlement to Suburb Upgrade project since last year to help improve the overall living conditions of the people and the city’s landscape.
The spill-over effects of this project will address most of the city’s socio-economic woes.
Almost half of the city is living in informal settlements without or with less electricity, proper sanitation, treated water supply or security over land tenure.
As such, malaria, tuberculosis and water-borne diseases are on the rise in the settlements because they don’t meet health, development or safety standards.
Through the project, Governor Parkop reaffirms his commitment to upgrading the settlements into suburbs and undertake affordable housing initiatives to benefit low income households living and working in the city.
“Four out of five citizens in our city live in hazardous environments. This has to change for the good of our city and our people.”
He has committed to create a “one-stop-shop” for private sector companies which are ready to build affordable housing, and to work with the finance institutions and the communities to tailor affordable mortgage products for low income people.
He already started the process by establishing dialogues with the customary landowners, real estate companies and donor agencies for collaboration to share resources and his vision.
While the process is complicated by land titles and the lack of government intervention in terms of finance, laws and policy, the commission has already surveyed some 18 thousand households to better understand their needs, and convened a high level task force to advance the affordable housing initiative and demonstrate results by the end of 2019.
“I have a goal to transform Port Moresby into a 21st Century city. “I know we can get there if everyone leans on. So much of the city is joining me in walking and becoming healthy: now we need to work together to rid our city of the pollution and crime that is holding us back.”
The project and the master plan will not only solve many of the urbanisation issues in the city but also expand the availability of state lease land for the city’s growth.