Cameraman, Maisen Hungito, brings to light the medicine shortages in Kabwum District

Yesterday a boy from Dengondo in the Selepet LLG of Kabwum District died in the village.

A staff at the Kabwum Health Centre confirmed his death.

Around 1:30pm today, a man from Gilang village in the Selepet LLG of Kabwum District was put on a stretcher and carried to the road. Later, he was brought to the Kabwum Health Centre on an open back Toyota Land Cruiser.

This evening, the guy passed away.

Kabwum District Health Centre has run short of medical supplies.

There are no antibiotics, pain killers, gloves and other common drugs to attend to patients and pregnant mothers.

This morning I walked into the dispensary at Kabwum Health Centre. I was very emotional because the shelves are all empty and patients were being sent away because of there were no medical supplies.

The staff are crying in their hearts. They don’t know how they will attend to the patients.

This morning staff advised the sick that “there is no medicine.” The patients were sent back to their villages.

I spoke to one of the patients and he told me that many are using traditional remedies because there is no medicine at the Kabwum Health Centre. The aid posts in the district don’t have workers.

Medicine shortage and absence of Health workers is a great concern in the district.

Lives are being lost every day.


*Maisen Hungito is the Senior Technician & Cameraman at EMTV’s Lae Bureau. This is his personal account of the medicine shortage he was sent to investigate in his home district of Kabwum in the Morobe Province.

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Christmas travels…Adelaide Sirox Kari survives an adventure to her Ialibu district

It’s the time of the year, Christmas Travels has arrived.

Hagen bus from Ialibu-Pangia and Mendi, has the so called K5 boss crews running around looking for an extra buck.
One of the K5 tycoons ends up pulling my cooking oil, bought to keep my food tasting just right in the village, I scold at him and he leaves my bag alone.
Me silently wishing the bus fills up and we can hit the road.
I wished too early.
Betelnut bags, rainbow bags, crying babies and mothers enter. A bucket, peanut and Kaukau bags fill the bus.
Meanwhile a K5 boss crew insists I buy him a smoke cause we are “squads”
After the actual boss crew fixes up the cargo on the bus, bus fare collected and the bus fueled up, we are off.
Or so I thought…
“Driver one-stop lo kaiwai”
More buai bags come on. Me questioning if we should just come up with a hybrid Betelnut tree to grow in the freezing cold weather of Southern highlands.
Ok that’s done! Yaye were off… but no.
Those accustomed with traveling on a PMV in the Hagen onwards would know what’s coming next.
“Chips cola stop”
I really want to Just get to Ialibu and the stops have made me dislike the smell of oil soaking chips and chicken. It reminds me my cooking oil. It’s safe tucked under the seat.
But my body does give in to a betelnut brake. My excuse is that I’m from the city where the green gold is an illicit drug and you can’t consume it in public.
Once the driver and boss crews bellies are full… (I silently watch in disgust, ’cause I’m on a bus with crying babies and deaf mothers waiting for them to get to it asap)..we are, finally, off to sweet ice cold Ialibu.
Unfortunately, sweet ice cold Ialibu doesn’t have one thing: The other green gold “SP Bottle” as eager passengers get a 6-pack for the road.
Aaaahhhh Christmas Travels.

No protection: How PNG families are being evicted from their homes| By Lucy Kopana

Two-Famillies-Evicted

In June last year, we got a call from distraught mother saying they were being evicted from their home on Doyle street, Eriku, Lae.  I was assigned for the job and given a brief background that this family had been evicted before.  This was my first eviction story I was tasked to cover.

I set out with our camera man, Raguel Kepas, not knowing what to expect.  We arrived at the house, and the mother Ellen Tigia Bis opened the gate and motioned us to go inside.  She told us they had been served an eviction order, and the police would be there anytime to evict them.  At that, she gave us an interview and she produced the documents she had with her.

Just when we were about done, a car came to the gate. It was the police. They told her they had a court order to follow and she had to comply. An explanation was no use.

Just then a man, emerged from a vehicle parked on the other side of the road. He headed straight to me shouting “What is the media’s interest in this?!”.  It was my first confrontation.

The next day, the family was evicted. Mrs. Tigia Bis, a widow, a mother and a grandmother, along with her family were forced to camp out in the rain.  A canvas was pulled out in front of the gate and their belongings were stacked up to avoid them being washed by the rain.

This is a woman whose husband passed on a few years earlier because of the pressure he was under, fighting to get the title for the property he had been a tenant in for over twenty years.

Her husband,  the Late Tigia Bis was a public servant. He and his wife signed a tenancy agreement and moved into the property, and raised their family there.

Soon after, the government started advertising the government sell off scheme for interested home buyers. Mr. Tigia, applied and was successful. In 1988, he was given a letter of offer to purchase the property.

His name was printed in the National Gazette listing him, as an “approved proprietor” on the 9th of February 1989, followed by a letter of confirmation from the state, to purchase the house.

He signed a salary deduction form, allowing a deduction of K112.50 to be deducted from his fortnightly pay, over a period of ten years.

Six years after settling the payment, he signed the contract of sale and the transfer instrument, that would allow the title transfer to take place.

In 2008, another man  claimed he had the title to the property, which he used in court and got the family evicted.

The Mr.  Tigia was under pressure, confused, and shocked at how the property he had spent ten years to pay off was simply given to someone else.  He fell ill and passed away in 2011, leaving his wife and children to fight for the home.

The case took ten years and was dismissed by the judge, because it had taken too long.

We were last advised by the NHC office in Lae that the title held by the man claiming ownership  was deemed illegal and was struck out.  Whilst the Tigia Bis family still waits to be transferred their title for the home, but the ‘title holder’ has gone ahead with advertising the property for sale.

This is just one of many other cases that we have covered regarding NHC properties in Lae.

In December last year two nurses and their families were also evicted from their homes.  Like the Tigia’s, they put up tents at  the front gate, and camped outside for one week.  Both families have children under the ages of five.

Almost every eviction that we’ve covered have had reports of violence shown against the occupants, mostly women and children.  Helpless women and children who cannot fight back against men with weapons. Men with bush knives, axes, and weapons appear at every eviction with NHC officers to evict tenants.

It got me wondering if this is even how evictions should be conducted.

Just last week Tuesday, the families of two long serving public servants were forced out of their houses when the men were at work.  The wife of one of the tenants said she was sitting outside when one man came and pulled her, whilst another jumped over the rails on the verandah and kicked the door open. They forced their way into the house and started bringing their belongings out.

When we arrived at the scene, the men who went to conduct the eviction had their faces covered, their bush knives in hand, staying guard over the property and the women and children, whose homes they had just ransacked.

Again the women and children were traumatized, just like in the other families.

There is the question of whether the correct and legal processes were followed in purchasing properties, transferring titles, and evicting long time tenants.

One thing for sure is that no Papua New Guinean man, woman, and child should have to be chased out of their homes without being given the opportunity to purchase the houses they occupy. They should not be forced out by men armed with bush knives and axes, especially when they are paying rent. They should not be chased out by men acting on behalf of foreign owned companies, who wouldn’t care less about the welfare of the average Papua New Guinean.

It’s painful to see that people with money can buy their way through the process without considering how their actions would affect the livelihoods of others, their children and grandchildren.

I wonder if they ever stop to think, “What if this was done to my family, my mother, wife, or child?”.

Communities petition PNG government to stop USD1.5b Chinese mine expansion | By Kessy Sawang

On Saturday, 01 December 2018, we the landowners and the mine-impacted communities of Basamuk held a public forum at Ganglau Village. I did education and awareness on:

  • The 2019 Budget, the Medium Term Development Plan III (2018 – 2022) and where Rai Coast is positioned in these plans;
  • The recently held APEC Meetings and some of the decisions that came out of that which will affect the people; and
  • The APEC gift K5 Billion Deal MOU signed on 16 November 2018 between PNG’s Mining Minister Hon. Johnson Tuke and the Chinese Government for Ramu Nickel Extenstion Project.

Following the forum, 1215 people signed a petition to stop the K5 Billion Extension Project and even shut down the Basamuk Refinery and limestone mine if the Government fails to hear us. For thirteen (13) years, our voices have not been represented in Parliament and have been supressed because we’ve been told to raise such issues throught our elected MP and the landowners association. For obvious reasons, our voices get drowned between Cape Righy and Godawan.

This time, with the support of five (5) elected Ward Members, we’ve formed The Basamuk People’s Voice which complements the petition by the four (4) LOAs from Kurumbukari to Basamok. We have been deprived of our natural justice enshrined in our National Constitution and Directive Principles for far too long.

Our petition is directed to the Minister for Minister for Mining Hon. Johnson Tuke, and copied to the Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill, Minister for National Planning, Hon. Richard Maru, Governor for Madang Hon. Peter Yama, Minister for Provincial Affairs, Hon. Kevin Isifu, President Ramu Nico Management (MCC) Ltd Mr. Gao Yongxue, and the Chairmen of the 4 landowner Associations from Kurumbukari to Basamok.

OUR PETITION

Dear Honourable Minister,

SUBJECT: PETITION TO STOP THE K 5 BILLION RAMU NICKEL EXTENSION PROJECT AND SHUT DOWN OF BASAMUK REFINERY

We the landowners and the mine-impacted communities of Rai Coast and Astrolabe Bay Rural LLGs, and particularly the Basamuk landowners, of Rai Coast District of Madang Province hereby present this letter of petition to you as Minister responsible for mining, the Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill, the National Government and the Madang Provincial Government.

During the APEC Summit on 16 November 2018, you signed an MOU with the Government of China, witnessed by our Prime Minister and the President of China, Xi Jinping, for a K5 Billion Ramu Nickel Mine Extension Project deal.

We the people of Rai Coast say NO to the use of our land, sea, rivers, limestone and people for the Extension Project unless our demands are met.

Our people have not benefited from key infrastructures nor socio-economic development for over 13 years since the Chinese first set foot at our doorstep.

We therefore demand the following from the Government:

1. ROAD (MADANG TO MOROBE BORDER)

We demand urgent and priority funding for the missing link Madang-Morobe Coastal Highway, which will connect Madang to Basamuk and beyond. In the PNG Development Strategic Plan 2010 – 2030, this area has been identified as one of the 10 economic corridors, with big economic potential but most disadvantaged.

Rai Coast District has huge economic potential in Agriculture, Tourism, Fisheries and MSME. For example, statistics from Cocoa Board shows that Rai Coast District has the highest number of cocoa fermentries and we produce the most cocoa in Madang Province. We need this key infrastructure to open up the resource-rich Madang-Morobe coastal economic corridor.

Since PNG joined China’s “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) Initiative, we have seen the Government build massive infrastructures in Port Moresby City. We have seen Billions of Kina Chinese-funded new road networks in the Highlands, hospitals and agriculture projects.

We the Rai Coast people have been hosting the Chinese for 13 years. Their State-owned company MCC’s biggest footprint is in our villages, our seas, rivers, and the air. Yet we have ZERO major high impact infrastructures, the most obvious one being the road.

The sea continue to be the graveyard for hundreds of Rai Coast people. We continue to take this risk every day. The District’s social indicators are very low. Lack of infrastructure, transport and access to energy hinder us from economic participation.

Minister, this time we will not allow any further Extension Project and we will also shut down the refinery if the Government does not start building our road and bridges as of 2019.

2. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT AND ASSESSMENT

We demand an independent assessment by environmental professionals on the impact of the Mine on the people, their livelihood and the environment. This must not be sponsored by the Company nor done by CEPA, as they have compromised and failed us over a decade. There is a Court Order for 3-monthly assessments that has never been adhered to.

We demand the Government to immediately review and stop the special permission granted to the company to burn heavy oil for electricity. We understand this heavy oil is banned in rest of the world. We demand an urgent independent assessment into the quality of air from sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide air emissions.

We demand the company be held to task to immediately produce hydro-power from the many rivers we have and even serve electricity with the people as per the Government’s rural electrification agenda.

No health baseline study has ever been conducted to date. Human use of sea and fish tissue is not analysed. The medical and safety standard of the mine is appalling.

3. RELOCATION

Permanent relocation of people away from the hazardous refinery area to Yalau Plantation and the development of Yalau Township as one-stop LLG Town and Service Centre for the District.

4. REVIEW OF FISCAL INCENTIVES

We demand an urgent review and cessation of the fiscal incentives of 10-year tax holiday given to the Developer. This tax holiday has effectively transferred wealth from Papua New Guineans to China.

The Developer must now pay taxes and this be utilized under Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme for vital infrastructures like roads, schools, health facilities and Infrastructure Development Grants for the mine-impacted Districts.

5. ISSUES WITH EXISTING MINING LEASES AT BASAMUK

We have existing issues that the Government and the Developer has failed to resolve. Some of these matters have been raised by the Four (4) Landowner Associations in their petition of 21 November, 2018 to you.

For Basamuk, notable is the landownership issue which the State’s decision and the Developer’s ignorance has caused. The Basamuk land dispute was gazetted in the National Gazette in 2001 (G169 of 2001). The land was exempted from Government’s Compulsory Acquisition process in 2002 (G51 of 2002). This decision was held by the National Court in 2007.

Both GoPNG and the Developer are illegally operating on our land.

Both GoPNG and Developer did not conduct due diligence to identify the land gazetted as Volume 27 Folio 142, containing an area of 87 hectares acquired for Mining purpose.

This is different to Volume 26 Folio 65, identified by registered survey File No. 12/257 containing an area of 83.989 hectares, erroneously referred to as Mindre Portion 109 that contains the modified survey of Basamuk, which falls short of the original survey.

Mindre and Basamuk are two different lands. The Government did not properly acquire the land and the documents/evidence we have on hand indicates fraud on the part of the State, contempt of Court and the Developer illegally residing on our land.

We therefore demand the State to immediately look into this matter, have it resolved and pay the parties concerned compensation as stated in Section 53(1) and 53(2) of the Constitution.

We now give the State 10 working days to respond to this petition. If we do not hear from the State nor get a positive response for further discussions, our next course of action will be to:

(i) Completely stop any Extension Project.

(ii) Shut down Basamuk Refinery as it is illegally operating on our land, in contempt of Court.

We are optimistic that the Government will respond favorably to our petition. We understand the PNG-China relationship and look forward to further dialogue with your Department, the Madang Provincial Government and the State.

…………………………………………….

END OF PETITION

  • Petition letter signed by Chair of The Basamuk People’s Voice – Ms. Kessy Sawang
  • Press Conference on this held in Madang town on Wednesday 05/12/18.
  • Hand-delivered to all parties
  • Chair had good meeting with Minister Minister. He assured me that we’ll have a meeting with relevant agencies Tuesday 11/12/18
  • Petition due date is 19 December, 2018
  • The petition will be made online and we ask as many people as possible help us petition and socialize this matter. Please help us fight for our rights.

Former judge Brunton calls for the resignation of Milne Bay Governor & Police Commander

What has become obvious  in Alotau and the Milne bay province is a  general break  down in  law and order.

You don’t have to go to a police station to see the occurrences being reported.  They are being posted onFacebook  regularly.  Over the last three years,  the provincial capital  has seen a steady increase in criminal activities.  Shops are being robbed in broad daylight. Many of the criminals are getting away without being caught.  

In July  2016, a policeman attending to a robbery was shot as he exited  a police vehicle onto a road. An American tourist  filming at the time, captured the graphic video and posted on YouTube.

Police Commissioner, Gary Baki,   issued orders for  investigations.  Alotau police followed up with arrests.  But the criminal activity continued.

In June 2018, the Bank South Pacific ATMs at  Hagita  was ransacked. Nobody was hurt but it  added to the long list of  crimes that continued to  erode public confidence.

In a statement, Bank South Pacific said:  “We would also like to express our disappointment at yet another violent robbery in the Province and advise that we will not replace the ATM until security in the area improves.”

The incident followed another  armed robbery outside BSP’s  Alotau branch in December2017 during which two people died. 

A month later, criminals robbed tourists at  the Tawali Resort. They took wallets,  cash  and other valuables  from the Asian and North American tourists. Eyewitnesses reported that the gang of 16 men were armed with assault weapons.

As the number  of robberies, shootings and armed assaults rose, public confidence in Police was on a steady decline.

In November, a  drunk policeman drove a vehicle into a group instantly   killing a woman and two children. Relatives of the woman and children blocked off  roads and demanded that the offenders be arrested.

In just one  month,  there has been another crisis.

Overnight, police burned 17 houses at the Kitava compound leaving 27 families homeless.  Eyewitnesses said police were searching for criminals who had robbed a Chinese restaurant in town and escaped through the settlement.

Alotau resident and former judge, Brian Brunton, has since called on the Police Commissioner to remove the Provincial Police Commander. He has also called for the Governor, Sir Luke Cretin, to resign.

“There is absolutely no leadership here,” Brunton said.  “There are serious piracy concerns in the area where the Justice Minister comes from.  Nothing is being done about it.

ALOTAU UPDATE: More than 10 houses burnt, families homeless

Police in Alotau burnt more than 12 houses early  last  night after they accused members of the settlement community of harboring criminals involved in an armed robbery hours earlier.

Residents at the Kitava Compound were forced out of their homes, questioned and then their homes set on fire.

One resident who didn’t want to be named  said women and children who were in their homes were told to get out. 

“We were surrounded by armed task force members. Firing everywhere.  They brought us together  and questioned us if we knew who these criminals were.

“They fired tear gas. Children were crying and we ran towards town. Later they Burned the houses, ransacked my house.”

Hours before the police attack, a local business was robbed by a group of criminals.   Eyewitnesses said a vehicle was also stolen during the robbery and the criminals used it to escape.

From text messages  eyewitnesses  say they  believe the criminals escaped through the Kitava compound to draw police off their trail.

I am  yet to confirm reports that an elderly woman was shot and killed in the attack.  If you have any more information, please contact me. 

PNG student campaigner-poet who wrote hilarious letters to Prince Harry passes on

I never got to meet Cleopatra ‘Waerisa’ Kolta in person.

This morning, while going through my message feeds, I came across a few that said Cleo had passed on after being ill for a while. She was only 25. She was an artist, writer, medical student and a bit more.

What initially drew me to Cleo’s work was the humor and strength of her character written into it. She was a leader in her own right and an inspirational Papua New Guinean who stood out among others. She packed so much into her short life and lived it with a great deal of passion and determination.

Nothing stood her way.

Through her pen name, Waerisa, she wrote, in Tok Pisin, the most outrageously funny letters expressing her love for Prince Harry, proposing marriage and promising economic benefits for PNG and the UK including through exports of agepa (greens native to the highlands), ginger and bamboo used for cooking.

In another of her letters, Waerisa suggested that the Prince hire the ‘Lamp flaps’ mamas as chefs at Buckingham palace while attempting to get the potential love of her life interested in the culinary delights of Port Moresby.

When applying for the position of Princess, Waerisa told the young prince, she was also of noble birth and was more than qualified to run the Royal household.

“My grandfather was a Chief of the hauslain (you see I am royal like you). He used to ride sharks because he is a Tolai boy. I bet your granddaddy only rode horses.”

Her writing shone with brilliance. It was original, witty, but also cut to the heart of important issues facing Papua New Guineans like violence against women.

“Where is she going?
Where did she come from?
Where did we all come from?
Were we like this back then?
If only mountains and trees could talk but for now let’s us all be covered in mud and shame for we give stones to them that lift hands to kill.”

Cleo also campaigned against environmental degradation inequality. She spoke out against the misconceptions held against people who lived in squatter settlements.

“I am Waerisa.
Born in the City.
Raised in the village.
Currently living in the settlement but my future is great.
Yes. I fetch water outside my house and I am not ashamed of it.
So long as the world is revolving, situations are not here to stay forever.
Don’t be too ashamed of who you are.
Keep going.
It doesn’t matter where you come from, Royalty is a state of mind.”
#NotAllBlockGirlsareBlockBabes
#SlumGirl
#Waerisa

Cleopatra ‘Waerisa’ Kolta held her mum in high regard. She was studying to be a medical professional but didn’t get to complete that part of her journey.

This tribute falls short of fully expressing who she was. She leaves a legacy of her positive life in her writing and her thoughts for the future of the country she loved very much.

You inspired and continue to inspire!

Thank you, Waerisa, “born of the earth and trees”

Original article:  inspirationalpapuanewguineans.wordpress.com/2018/12/04/png-campaigner-poet-student-who-wrote-hilarious-letters-to-prince-harry-passes-on/