Thoughts on NCDC housing for Minister Ken Fairweather

Another discussion here on facebook group Sharp Talk. Naemon Anna asked the following on the long outstanding issue of housing:

Naemon Anna
The population of main cities in PNG, particularly Port Moresby will disproportionally be peri-urban settlers. Not only that, some interior areas of the city like Waigani where the old market is to be is now a slummy habitat with a gloomy portray. Rural -urban drift is growing and changing the face and shape of urban life very fast.
Would this trend mean we (PNGeans) no longer want to stagnant in the century-old routine village, rural life anymore? Are we seeing urban life as presenting us with different choices and opportunities of change from poverty of access to prosperity? If so, is our government also taking our choices seriously and responding to it? How is it going to respond now and in the 21st century? Does it have a plan? Does this also mean the traditional focus of development on rural development have to shift or complement urban development? Should public-private partnerships and relationship building amongst main city stakeholders including local land owners where the cities sit be a key approach to manage and address rural/urban development? Would we ignore urban development na tok em problem blo Lae or NCDC city council?

Minister Ken Fairweather and his team from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development have a lot to work on to address urbanisation in PNG. Lukluk blo mi no mo (tasol)..

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My response:

Emmanuel Narokobi
Thanks Anna, it is a pressing issue. I’m not an economist so I may miss some variables in my theory below, but maybe this could be a way to tackle the problem.

The roads up to 9 Mile are now being upgraded. 8 & 9 mile were once considered ‘out in the bush’ but there are new suburbs there now which are thriving and growing. I don’t think NCDC has done to badly within their restrictions. The two major restrictions for urban dwelling have been:

  1. Access to financing
  2. Access to land

Therefore those two factors above has resulted in the high rental and housing prices we are seeing right now in Port Moresby. So the government can maintain our roads and put up street lights and pump water into new suburbs etc but they do not currently have control over how housing is developed.

So Fairweathers team needs to look at the following to ease the 2 major restrictions as mentioned above:

1. National Housing Commission (NHC) management need to be sacked and the NHC needs to be privatized and brought under IPBC. They have a huge portfolio if properties that have been grossly mismanaged for years. They have assets tat just need better management to turn it around.

On this note as well, once NHC can sort out its properties then it can do things like say moving the Wanigela settlement from Koki into proper housing so that the Koki market area can be cleaned up and opened for retail businesses and public entertainment.

2. We have several Urban Development Lease’s (UDL) in the hands of individuals who have no money to develop them or we have these UDL’s somehow falling into the hands of foreigners who continue building high priced accommodation which the average PNG’ean can’t afford. So the State needs to work with these UDL owners to help them get finance to develop some of these large areas of land tied up in the UDL’s. This will also lead Fairweather into how the Land Titles Commission has been run.

3. We have allot of traditional land in Port Moresby as well, but landowners have to be educated on how they can benefit from this. Landowners in NCDC should be treated just like landowners in mining companies. We ask them politely if we can use their land and if they say No, okay we leave it.

If they say Yes, then we get all the clans together we setup a Property Trust for them and all rentals for whatever is done on that land is paid to them. So they effectively become property tycoons in NCDC with royalties paid to their family trusts.

So thats what the government can do on their end, the landowners themselves need to work with each other to make this work. Some thoughts on what they can do within their families can be read here.

The result of an ease on those two major restrictions will then mean a stable property market to invest in and so banks will feel more comfortable to lend.

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