Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Children's park to close

Temu classifies playground for commercial purpose


By MADELEINE AREK and TRAVERTZ MABONE in The National, Papua New Guinea’s leading daily newspaper


THE Unagi Oval and the park and playground for children and residents of National Capital District at Gordon recently created by Governor Powes Parkop for their enjoyment will soon be a thing of the past.

This is because the National Government has reclassified the land as “commercial”.

Lands and Physical Planning Minister Sir Puka Temu, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, abandoned an earlier decision of his, and decided to declare it commercial.

This week, lawyers representing Virgo 65 and Fairhaven Limited, purported owners of the land, instructed the National Capital District Commission to remove all playing equipment at the children’s playground and Unagi Oval.

The lawyers told NCDC to comply with the National Gazette of May 6, 2009.

In documents made available to The National, Sir Puka appears to have abandoned an earlier recommendation by the PNG Physical Planning Appeals Tribunal.

The land was previously considered as “open space” or public reserve.

Documents show that in December 2007, Sir Puka had upheld the tribunal’s appeal not to rezone Unagi Park into a commercial area.

He had stated then in part that he wished to protect public interest by “ensuring that land is used in accordance with sound physical planning principles (and/or) the need for continuity and consistency of policy or another reason”.

But the May 6 National Gazette now says the land has been rezoned. It is unclear why there has been a change of heart.

NCD Governor Powes Parkop said he would reserve his comments until he spoke with Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and Sir Puka.

He admitted that he was not happy with the rezoning but would talk to the minister.

Unagi Park should remain a public reserve for recreational purposes for the benefit of the city’s children and families,” he said.

It is understood NCDC has already instructed a law firm to go to court to fight this decision.

Virgo 65 and Fairhaven Limited are believed to be owned by individuals of Asian origin.

Mothers, children and youths who were using the park yesterday afternoon expressed their disgust when told about this decision.

One of the mothers who took her children out to enjoy the facilities yesterday Pat Nguna was worried and said that “If they removed the facilities then our children wont have a place to go to.”

Mrs Nguna and another mother Cathy Collin said there were no other place safer and convenient than that specific area as Erima is too dangerous and the other places are too far.

Jonathan Wii and Jonathan Kunjil were against the idea of developing the area for commercial.

Mr Kunjil said: “Why remove something that people enjoy, the government should allocate land elsewhere on unused land or remove settlements that occupy prime land to cater for commercial activities.”

A resident of Wewak Steven Tom who was transiting through Port Moresby to Lihir who was taking a break there admired what the governor of NCD is doing to beautify and develop the city’s parks.

He said “You hardly find these sorts of facilities around the country for families to enjoy and Port Moresby is privileged to have them. You should keep them


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