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Nadzab Airport Redevelopment Project (NARP) and Airport City, PNG

Gabsongkeg villagers impacted by Nadzab Airport upgrade make repeated calls for consultation, participation and provision of vital facilities. State assumptions of patrilineal clan descent have marginalised women in land-related negotiations and decisions


Concerns over the likelihood of difficulties in negotiating land acquisition for expansion and upgrade of Nadzab Airport were raised in 1972, when Papua New Guinea was under Australian colonial administration. A report, DEVELOPMENT OF NADZAB AIRPORT, PAPUA NEW GUINEA, referred by the House of Representatives to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works on 31st August, favoured development of Nadzab Airport, 42 kilometres to the northwest of the city of Lae, capital of the Morobe Province, over several alternative sites that had been considered. The report noted that the Nadzab Airport project would necessitate the addition of 777 hectares of land to the existing airport area of 429 hectares and stated: ‘The additional area is traditionally native owned land and whilst the Committee were informed that no great difficulty or undue delay is expected to occur with purchase or acquisition, we were disturbed that negotiations for the land have not already commenced. The Committee’s endorsement of this proposal must therefore be conditional on satisfactory arrangements being made with the land owners concerned.’[1] 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Nadzab Airport Redevelopment Project (NARP) and Airport City, PNG
Country:Papua New Guinea
State or province:Morobe Province
Location of conflict:Wampar local-level government (LLG) Administration
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Ports and airport projects
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The 1972 DEVELOPMENT OF NADZAB AIRPORT, PAPUA NEW GUINEA report proposed works including strengthening the existing 2,438 metre runway and construction of taxiways, passenger terminal complex, airport service buildings and associated roads. The report also refers to a masterplan specifying a system of two parallel 3,962 metre runways and stating that adequate space was available for associated buildings and parking spaces.[1] The airport development took place between 1975 and 1977 and was constructed by the Australian government.

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Level of Investment for the conflictive projectUSD 269,600,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:31/08/1972
Company names or state enterprises:Planpac Group from Australia - Commissioned by the National Airports Corporation (NAC) to design the Nadzab Airport master plan in 2009
Dai Nippon – Nippo Joint Venture from Japan - Awarded contract for construction of Nadzab Airport Redevelopment Project in November 2019
Relevant government actors:National Airports Corporation (NAC)
Government of Papua New Guinea
Wampar LLG
Land Titles Commission
Huon Gulf administration
Morobe Provincial Government
Department of Lands and Physical Planning
NCD (National Capital District) Physical Planning Board
Government of Australia
International and Finance InstitutionsJapan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) (JICA) from Japan - Loan for Nadzab Airport upgrade agreed with PNG government on 14th October 2015
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local government/political parties
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Noise pollution, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Food insecurity (crop damage)
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Potential: Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Other Health impacts, Accidents
Other Health impactsIllnesses caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Land dispossession, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Loss of livelihood
Potential: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Other socio-economic impacts, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Under negotiation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Landowners impacted by Nadzab Airport Redevelopment Project (NARP) have repeatedly complained of not being involved in the project or in the associated business opportunities. NARP impacts on Gabsongkeg villagers but residents still lack a clatter supply, electricity and adequate health facilities. Development has increased social disruption including violent crime. Contested land ownership over land allocated for the Nadzab Airport upgrade project date back to inception of the project in 1972. There have been disputes between the Orognaron and Orogwangin clans. The state-supported ideology of patrilineal land ownership often excludes women from negotiations and decisions. This impacted on a female leader of the Orognaron clan.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[1] REPORT relating to the proposed DEVELOPMENT OF NADZAB AIRPORT Papua New Guinea, The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, 18/10/1972
[click to view]

[17] Preparatory Survey on the Project for Nadzab (Lae) Airport Rehabilitation in Independent State of Papua New Guinea, Final Report, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), March 2015
[click to view]

[18] Preparatory Survey on the Project for Nadzab (Lae) Airport Rehabilitation in Independent State of Papua New Guinea, Final Report, SECTION 6 FORMULATION OF AIRPORT MASTER REHABILITATION PLAN, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), March 2015
[click to view]

[19] Signing of Japanese ODA Loan Agreement with the Independent State of Papua New Guinea: Strengthening the capacity of Nadzab Airport at the country’s second largest city, supporting further regional economic activities, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), 14/10/2015
[click to view]

Land Registration (Amendment) Act 2009
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2] Bettina Beer, Gender and inequality in a postcolonial context of large‐scale capitalist projects in the Markham Valley, Papua New Guinea, The Australian Journal of Anthropology, 11/2018
[click to view]

[3] Nadzab land under dispute, The National, 23/05/2013
[click to view]

[4] Villagers in the dark regarding airport’s re-development, 23/12/2019
[click to view]

[5] Nadzab Airport Plan To Go, Post-Courier, 07/02/2020
[click to view]

[6] Irate Nadzab Landowners Petition Morobe Govt, Post-Courier, 12/02/2020
[click to view]

[7] Nadzab airport LOs disappointed, Post-Courier, 05/03/2020
[click to view]

[8] Seymour Wants Better Offer For Gabsongkeg, Post-Courier, 17/06/2020
[click to view]

[9] Nadzab LOs call for active participation in project, Loop PNG, 31/07/2020
[click to view]

[10] Plans for Nadzab city revealed, The National, 03/08/2020
[click to view]

[11] No development yet, Loop PNG, 19/04/2021
[click to view]

[12] Focus on Nadzab development, Loop PNG, 06/06/2021
[click to view]

[13] Gabsongkeg women look to the future, The National Weekender, 22/01/2022
[click to view]

[14] Nadzab upgrading set to roll, The National, 04/11/2011
[click to view]

[15] Nadzab Central Strategic Plan, PLANPAC
[click to view]

[16] Lae Nadzab Commercial Area prepares for takeoff, Lae Chamber of Commerce, 07/2014
[click to view]

[20] Nadzab: The Upcoming Airport City,, 12/12/2017
[click to view]

[21] Morobe proposing for second city at Nadzab, One Papua New Guinea, 30/07/2018
[click to view]

[22] Nadzab Airport Redevelopment Project, Lae City Authority
[click to view]

[23] Nadzab plan in progress, The National, 16/04/2021
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Nadzab Township Progress, Loop PNG, 01/01/2022
[click to view]

Nadzab Development, Loop PNG, 06/06/2021
[click to view]

Gabsongkeg Landowners Want Equal Participation in Nadzab's Redevelopment, EMTV Online, 29/07/2020
[click to view]

Morobe Governor: Involve Landowners in Airport's Redevelopment Project, 01/08/2020
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, email: [email protected]
Last update23/03/2022
Conflict ID:5828
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