Plan to build 40,000 houses in Port Moresby
The PNG National Housing Corporation plans to build 40,000 houses in Port Moresby but critics say an overhaul of the housing policy is needed first.
The National Housing Corporation in Papua New Guinea has announced it will build 40,000 new homes in Port Moresby to alleviate a massive housing shortage.
But researchers say just building thousands of homes is not the answer, and until policies surrounding the release of state land are overhauled the problem will not be fixed.
Mary Baines reports.
The Housing Corporation's managing director, John Dege, says it will build 2,000 houses a year for the next 20 years.
JOHN DEGE: It is very critical. The housing shortage has not been addressed for over 20 years. That's how bad it is. And most of our senior public servants, I'm talking about lawyers, accountants, medical doctors, engineers are currently living in shanties and coming to work each morning.
The United Nations Habitat country manager, Vincent Pyati, says a 2010 survey suggests 45 percent of Port Moresby's population live in squatter settlements.
VINCENT PYATI: In the settlements, we don't have the basic services, such as roads, water, no regular garbage collection, we don't have proper connected power lines or supply of electricity, and we also have law and order problems in those settlements.
Mr Pyati says the housing shortage has been caused by a rapid population increase, the high cost of building materials and limited building expertise. But he says the main cause is the lack of serviced land being released by the government. He says whether the National Housing Corporation project will go ahead is a matter of political will and funding over the next few years.
VINCENT PYATI: The responsibility of servicing land is not given to a single government organisation and it is spread out in different government institutions, so no one feels responsible. And they haven't been supplying serviced land frequently to meet public demand.
The director of the National Research Institute, Thomas Webster, says while the National Capital District approves plans for the city, the allocation of land is done by the Department of Lands. He says the NCD is not informed of who has obtained development leases for land, so that released land is often left empty for years by developers.
THOMAS WEBSTER: We need the role of the state to be broader than just supporting the National Housing Corporation in the construction of houses. In fact, the 40,000 houses that they're talking about they have to build on land that they don't have at the moment. So we propose that the state should look at improving the planning systems and the administration systems so that more land is released for development both by state agencies and by private sector.
The National Research Institute has said the answer to the housing shortage is not just building more houses, and has called for a multi-pronged Housing Strategy which includes the design and construction of affordable houses and financing schemes. Dr Webster says he hopes the Ministerial Committee set up to address the housing issue from this year will improve existing systems.
The National Housing Corporation says it has secured two urban development leases at Durand Farm, outside Port Moresby, and at the back of the National Research Institute in Waigani. It says construction will begin within three years.
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