Friday, October 09, 2009

Port Moresby's king of affordable housing

Eke Lama (left) supervising building of a new three-bedroom house at Gerehu
Eke Lama watching building of a new three-bedroom house at Gerehu
Eke Lama at his Ta Wanu units at Gerehu
Ta Wanu units at Gerehu
Eke Lama at his new property development at Gerehu
Eke Lama points to where his workmen are cutting up the hillside at Gerehu
Yumi Yet Properties units at Waigani
Eke Lama at one of his leased commercial properties at Waigani
Eke Lama at his second leased commercial property at Waigani
New units being built at Three-Mile
Yumi Yet Properties’ new units under construction at Three-Mile
Eke Lama (second from left) personally supervises concrete pouring at Three-Mile
Leased shop at East Boroko
On a hill at Gerehu Stage Two, which offers panoramic views of Port Moresby’s most-populated suburb, a massive property development over 31 hectares is taking place.
Yumi Yet Properties, owned by Southern Highlands businessman Eke Lama, is cutting up the hillside to build more units which can be afforded by the average Papua New Guinean.
He owns residential and commercial property all over Port Moresby and Mt Hagen.
Mr Lama, for those who came in late, is known in Port Moresby as a man who is making housing affordable to hundreds of Papua New Guineans in Port Moresby, me included.
These are simple, self-contained units, nothing fancy a’la Touguba Hill.
“Currently, we have one-bedroom, two-bedroom and hostel-type rooms,” he says.
“We have 237 units altogether in Port Moresby right now.
“We are renting out to average Papua New Guineans.
“We are not ‘cutting their necks’ by giving them affordable accommodation.
“Our units are at Four-Mile, Waigani and Gerehu.
“Across the board, we are leasing for K600, K700, K800 or K900 per month for a one-bedroom unit.
“Our two-bedroom units are going for K1, 400-K1, 800 per month.
“Three-bedrooms are going for K1, 600-K2, 000.
“These are reasonable rates we are giving to Papua New Guineans.”
As we stand on the hill last Saturday marveling at the view, Mr Lama points out where a proposed new freeway, once the LNG project gets underway, would pass through to Jackson’s Airport.
And yet, this self-made success story never made it past Grade Three, and started off buying and selling coffee cherries
“I went to mission school in 1972,” Mr Lama tells me.
“I finished my Grade Three in 1975.
“My ‘university’ finished there.
“I started my business in 1979 in my village, Wala, in Pangia, Southern Highlands province.
“In 1979, with K200, I started buying cherry coffee at 20t a tin.
“When I sold the coffee, I bought goods from Mt Hagen, which I used to run a trade store in Pangia.
“From those humble beginnings, I started spreading my wings
“I started running trade stores at Wala, one at Pangia station, one at Waigani, one in Mt Hagen and one at East Boroko.
“I was in the coffee-buying and trade store business for 25 years, before going into real estate.”
Mr Lama is a relatively new kid on the lucrative real estate block of Port Moresby, only having been there since 2006, but he is already creating ripples.
“I went into the real estate business in 2006,” he recalls.
“I firstly acquired property at Section 378, Lot 10, Gerehu.
“Then I acquired property at Section 42, Lot 14, Waigani, for commercial purposes as well as Section 41, Lot 35 and Lot 5, Waigani.
“I also have one at Section 16, Lot 35, East Boroko.
“And now, we are working on this land, Portion 2577.
“It’s 31.35 hectares.
“I want to build split-level units on the first 9.5 hectares.
“I’m looking at building 240-250 units.
“On the other 22 hectares, I’m going to put up houses.
“I’m planning to put up the first building by December or January.
“I believe I’m going to finish within two years, between 2010-2011.”
For someone who is 55, Mr Lama shows a lot of energy, as he showed by supervising workmen on his properties at Gerehu, Waigani, Three-Mile where a new block of units is going up, and East Boroko last Saturday.
Recently, when I had a plumbing problem at my unit, he was there to take charge of the whole operation.
“I’m 55 years old but I look young and strong because I work from 7 o’clock in the morning to 7 o’clock at night,” he explains.
“I own the properties.
“I don’t let other people run it.
“When I build a house, I’m the foreman.
“I’m the plumber, mechanic, electrician, carpenter, painter, road builder, bridge builder, a jack-of-all-trades.”
Mr Lama says real estate agents are also to blame for the high rentals in Port Moresby
“I don’t want my property to be managed by real estate agents because they put up the rentals by imposing their own fees,” he says.
“I don’t want my tenants to be affected.
“I look after my properties myself, and I only pay tax to the government.”
Mr Lama has also assisted in infrastructure development in his home province for the church as well as in conjunction with the Southern Highlands provincial government, such as church buildings and schools.
“I wanted to help others back at home.
“My business helps church groups,” he says,
“At Wala, my home village, I’m sponsoring 32 students from Grade 9 to university.
“I want to be an example for Papua New Guineans.
“I seriously want to tell Papua New Guineans not to sell out land in Port Moresby or elsewhere.
“Do not be lazy.
“If you want to be a businessman, you have to commit yourself first, and then put your money in.
“If you want to sell buai, cigarettes, run a tradestore, anything, put yourself in first.
“Then put your money in.
“Look after the business like a baby and it will grow.
“When the business starts to grow, there is no looking back from there.
“When you make money, don’t play around with it.”
Mr Lama says the real estate business is a pot of gold, especially with the LNG project coming on stream.
“Real estate business right now is very good,” he added.
“I want to retire after I have completed 300 new units, and when I own 500 units all over Port Moresby.”
Mr Lama can be contacted on telephone 3236979 or mobiles 6920757 and 72200653.


  1. Anonymous11:54 AM

    Affordable but most of the properties are not fit for humans to live in. E.g the hostel at fourmile. I inspected a room and the room smelled of urine, had no windows and it was hot like an oven, it all more like a warehouse or storeroom and it's not worth the money...I spoke to former tenants and they agreed.K450/pfn. I found a place at K250/pfn way tops!

    1. Anonymous1:49 PM

      If you think you found a place cost K250/ pfnn way tops, ok why not give the location where abouts

    2. Anonymous1:40 PM

      I agree. I know this post is late but going back to what first Anon said, the units he has built are disgusting. Very unhygienic. Especially the Yumi Yet properties at Waigani. It is physically revolting. The standard there is not far from a settlement. The drainage and garbage that piles up in front of the property is just unfit for humans to inhabit. I was a former resident and complained several times with no avail. Even the roads leading to the area is just horrible.

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  3. Anonymous3:13 PM

    He is building sub-standard houses that are unfit for human habitation. Sadly our people do not have any choice but to rent this 'affordable'houses

  4. Anonymous1:20 PM


  5. This guy is a rip off. He bought a very old Genset which wasn't working at his Gerehu stg 2 Compound and increased the rent. I don't think he adheres to any safety issues when building.

    Malum it would be interesting if you can write about what his clients think of him... :)

  6. Anonymous7:52 PM

    Hi Guys
    I am not sure if this is the place to post this but still. I am moving to POM, PNG to help Bmobile with their network. Looking for a 2 bed room apt. As this is a Gov project not getting a very high salary. Can any one provide me with information about cheap good safe apartments for long time rent say 1 year. Thanks

  7. When I started my career in POM after I graduated from Unitech, I had a young family with a 1 yr old son and my wife. Because I was not earning much to afford a good place to rent, I had to approach one of Mr. Lama's property managers, a real "kanaka", if I can recall properly. Mr Lama had put out an ad for interested tenants to rent one of his new properties in Gerehu that he recently built, which I might add was way below the approved standards of the National Buildings Board upon my initial inspection, but because I was desperate and did not mind that. After calling the number on the ad and inquiring with no luck I caught a bus in the hot sun to meet up with this "kanaka" property manager. I literally begged him to let me rent the place because of my family's sake, but his response was "Mipla les lo ol highlands lo rentim". This statement was not on the ad but I heard it from this kanaka's mouth and it really insulted my consciousness as an Highlander. I had to settle for a cheap place in Morauta settlement. Through God's grace I am now living in an expensive apartment with my family in Brisbane, but I will never forget this incident in my life. My advise is not to rent Mr. Lama's properties as they are unprofessionally run and below acceptable living standards. Him and his team are just trying to make fast money because of the property market boom in Port Moresby and you and your familys' safety are the least of his concerns. Bottom line: He does not care about his tenants and only cares about making fast money cheaply, which is very contrary to what Mr. Nalu is trying to paint here. Lately there have been improvements in the road and infrastructure in POM's settlement areas like Morauta and 6/8/9 Mile. This developments have given rise to affordable housing in these settlement areas. If I was someone desperate, I would look at these places first.

  8. Are all these buildings approved by the Buildings Board?? Looks like a waiting disaster..just take a look at the Gerehu compound, a single flame could wipe through that place in seconds

  9. Are all these buildings approved by the Buildings Board?? Looks like a waiting disaster..just take a look at the Gerehu compound, a single flame could wipe through that place in seconds

  10. Please notify me if there's any vacant for one bedroom unit K600-K900 PER MONTH ONE LOCATION 4MILE