Monday, April 18, 2011
House of Assembly sold
By JUNIOR UKAHA
THE first House of Assembly in downtown Port Moresby is to be turned into a hotel, The National reports.
The state sold the site to the Lamana Development Group which plans to turn the historical building into a modern hotel.
The one-time seat-of-power is located in downtown Port Moresby, next to the AON Building on McGregor Street.
How the land was obtained and why this iconic building was sold to the developer is not known but contractors began demolition work last week.
David Western Constructions Ltd managing director David Kini said they were contracted by Lamana Development Group, the new owner of the area, to clear up the place.
He said his company had been hired to demolish the old House of Assembly and build a replica of the building that would serve as a hotel.
“We have been instructed by our client to demolish the old building and build a replica of it,” Kini said.
The National visited the site last Friday and saw workmen erecting a fence around the property to stop public access.
It is understood that the national government, through the National Museum and Arts Gallery (NMAG), was owner of the land before its acquisition by the Lamana Development Group.
Nine families who lived in the area were paid K200,000 by the developer and told to move out to make way for construction work to begin.
John Sine, from Chimbu, who has lived in the area for the past 35 years, thought it was a joke when he first saw the contractors.
“It looks like the government does not care about the cultural and historical significance of this place,” he said.
“I will not be surprised if the government and other selfish politicians and people in authority sell the country to foreigners in their greed to acquire more money and wealth.”
The state and concerned parties did attempt to restore the old parliament as a national heritage and former governor-general Sir Paulias Matane headed a committee which attempted to raise funds to restore the building.
Money was committed by government but it is uncertain where these funds might be.
The building was formerly a “whites only” hospital in the 1950s and was turned into a House of Assembly in 1961 when at the insistence of the UN and Australia decided to prepare the former territories of Papua and New Guinea for self-governing status.
Attempts to get comments from NMAG and the Lands Department were unsuccessful.