Image: An excavator goes to work taking down homes at Javani settlement, Lae
At the Javani settlement this morning, a young mother hurriedly whisked her baby to safety as an excavator approached the piece of land that was once their home.
As she went back into the house, baby in hand, a policeman told her to leave. Then minutes later, the house was flattened leaving her family homeless.
This was the scene this morning when dozens of families were today forcefully evicted from the Javani settlement in Lae City following an eviction order issued last month by the provincial government.
Many of the settlers had previously resided on swampland that has now been taken up by the Lae Port Development.
“They were compensated, when they were removed from the Lae Port Construction site,” said City Manager, Roy Kamen.
“They could have used the compensation money to move elsewhere but they didn’t,
Eviction orders were issued on the 19th of February.”
Further in the settlement, residents tried to salvage building materials. Children were told to stay in a safe place while their parents worked to gather their meager belongings.
A few meters away, another house is demolished as the wide-eyed children look on. The excavator bucket smashed into the walls of their home. Yet another family was forced to leave.
Lucas Sine, a buai seller who built a house at Javani, watched as his house was demolished by the excavator. This is the second time he has had to build on the same plot of land. Previously, he removed his house after another eviction threat.
“I spent K9500. I bought roofing iron, cement and ridge caps,” he said, “Tonight, I don’t know where we will sleep.”
Over the last 40 years, Lae’s growth spurred a steady influx of people looking for jobs and opportunities. Many end up in settlements like Javani.
For many suburban residents who blame the crime committed by settlers, it is the unemployment and the difficulty of regulating and policing places like this that prompt calls for evictions.
The settlement sits on state land owned by the provincial government. City Manager, Roy Kamen says, the provincial government has plans for a x-ray facility for shipping containers.