On Monday 16 November 2020, the Court ruled in favour of Nambawan Super’s primary rights over the land portions 2156, 2157, and 2159, sometimes known as Bushwara, at 9-mile outside of Port Moresby.
The decision directs settlers and squatters to move from the site, including removing any improvement or dwellings and provides them 120 days to give vacant possession of the land.
The court ruling sets out that all occupants of the three sites must give vacant possession by 16 March 2021.
Within the closing remarks of the court ruling, Justice Anis noted settlers had been “led to believe” they were buying land from the customary landowners and they “will have to be evicted or leave because the land is State land which has leases” that are registered to Nambawan Super.
The court ruling stated this decision should sound a warning to anyone who is thinking of buying land outside of cities and towns to follow due processes and conduct searches with the Department of Lands or seek proper legal assistance.
“Land cannot be sold like a chattel or a loaf of bread, nor can anyone just occupy it and try to claim rights over it without proper legal basis,” Justice Anis remarked.
A spokesperson for the Fund said they understood the hardship this will cause for some settlers, but stated it is necessary to safeguard the land, which is a valued asset owned by the 200,000 members of Nambawan Super.
“As Papua New Guineans we all understand the value of land – and just as people will fight to protect their traditional land, the Fund has fought to protect the State Land Leases we have purchased – so they can be developed and improved for today, and future generations.
“It is disheartening to see some people, including members of the Fund, have been taken advantage of by those who sold land they have no legal right to, creating hardship for others at this time,
“However settlers on this land must vacate the site – as the Court has ruled it belongs to the members of Nambawan Super.
“Our members, including teachers, police, nurses, correctional services personnel, public servants and private sector employees – continue to ask the Fund to prudently invest their superannuation savings to help them today, through the development of affordable housing options.
“It remains the Fund’s intention to develop the site with affordable housing for the growing Port Moresby population and in particular for the Fund’s Members – just as the Fund has always intended.
“Securing these titles has been a challenging process where Nambawan Super has encountered a series of bureaucratic difficulties with one title still being subject to legal action.”
“But with these three key titles no longer in doubt, our team is readying to progress development.”