Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Activist campaigns to save Unagi Park.

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


A WOMAN activist has gone on the campaign trail following the reclassification of the Unagi Park at Five-Mile in Port Moresby from a public reserve to commercial.

She is calling on everyone in the city to help her fight against the commercialisation of the park.

The park has been reclassified from an open space or public reserve to a commercial area by a May 6 National Gazettal notice authorised by Lands and Physical Planning Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sir Puka Temu.

Dorothy Tekwie, a staunch human rights yesterday initiated the “Save Unagi Oval/Children playground Campaign” in a bid to allow the area to remain as it currently is – a park to be used by city residents, especially children.

In an email note to friends and colleagues, Ms Tekwie said for far too long, the Government had stood by and watched recreational areas being sold off to “greedy foreign business interest” and she would not watch the same being done to the

Unagi Park.

She said her campaign was to “save these last pieces of limited public recreational land in the city for our children to play and enjoy”.

She urged city residents to join her expose another insensitive, irresponsible and corrupt decision by the Government to deny children and others the right to recreational services in the city.

Since The National ran the story yesterday, city residents have expressed disgust at the Government over its actions, calling it an act of greed that was in the interest of foreign businesses.

Several people The National spoke to raised concerns over the manner in which Sir Puka had gone back on his earlier decision to allow the land to remain a public reserve.

They also expressed concern that in future, Port Moresby would run out of parks and public reserves.

Michael, who lives at Hohola Four, makes the weekly pilgrim there with his daughter Aliya, who has fallen in love with the slide.

When told about the reclassification of Unagi Park, he asked: “Where else can we take our children to play and enjoy themselves outdoors?

“Take a look around the city and you will see new buildings springing up everywhere. But there’s no place for our children to play and enjoy themselves.”

Janet, who lives at Erima and regularly commutes to work along that route, said “it’s a bad decision”.

“The park is nice as it is.

“It allows a break for the eye, especially when you’re bombarded with ugly buildings all over the place and betelnut vendors plying their untidy trade,” the young mother said.

She continued: “I don’t know who the developers are but if they want to change that into an amusement park or someplace where families can retire to, then okay, but another ugly building smack bang in the middle of that beautiful peace of land would be a disaster and the minister should seriously reconsider his decision.”

Linda, a betelnut vendor who has been enjoying the facilities with her children since NCD Governor Powes Parkop “lit up the place”, was extremely annoyed when she sighted The National yesterday and said the minister had lost the plot.

“He said something and then went back on his word.

“These businesses who have title to the land should go to Eight-Mile or Nine-Mile and conduct their affairs.  “Leave the park alone,” the disgruntled Engan woman said. 

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