Following up on an article that appeared in the Post Courier on 16th November 2012, the LCCI wanted to report on the ethnic clashes that continue to persist today.
Only some of the recommendations made by the LCCI have been addressed to date.The Morobe Provincial Government has recently and very publicly taken action to remove squatter camps in Lae, especially along the banks of the Bumbu River starting from the area behind the National Polytechnic College. This is good and needs to be continued but the problem is that most of the settlers that are now displaced will re-settle again most likely in some of the overcrowded illegal settlements that are already causing trouble. This job needs to be finished off with the return of many of the settlers to their own provinces’, or if they contribute to the Lae economy, then to settle them in legal settlements.
The Ahi Land Mobilization scheme was established to free up community land for development of formal settlements was designed to assist settlers. The scheme has floundered for years for lack of drive and assistance from the Government. The concept however should be revitalised so that land can be made available for proper legal settlements.
The Lae Urban and Ahi Local Level Governments should set up committees within their ward system to control settlers so as to ensure that only settlers who have a good job should occupy these settlements. Job hunters should register with these committees, and be given a certain time to find a job or return to their province. The ward committees would need to set a covenant on the type of building to be constructed and a density policy to control the numbers of people per block.
Lae has gained a fearful reputation for ethnic clashes in the last few years, resulting in deaths, rapes and destruction of property. It is true that there is rarely a week goes by without a disturbance somewhere in the settlements of Lae. All efforts to stop and prevent more clashes must be made and acted on by all the institutions involved. Many business houses are affected by these disturbances as employees from these areas often are prevented in attending their jobs.