PNG’s only radiation machine won’t work — and the consequences can be fatal (Natalie Whiting ABC)

Saulo Honorobo was a teenager when he first met his wife.

For 30 years he and Marggeret built a life together. They moved homes, they had two children, Marggeret started a small business and Saulo became a community leader.

Then a tumour started to grow on Marggeret’s face.

If Saulo and Marggeret had been born in another country, their story would likely have been different.

But in Papua New Guinea, there is currently no radiotherapy available for people who have cancer.

A tumour is seen growing on Marggeret Honorobo's nose.

“The doctor discussed that the only way she will survive is she has to go to have that radiation therapy overseas,” Mr Honorobo said.

The country’s only radiation machine has been out of action for more than two years.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has offered to supply the radioactive sources needed to get the machine back up and running, but before it can do that, the PNG Government has to pass legislation to meet nuclear safety regulations.

So Saulo Honorobo watched as the tumour grew, disfiguring his beloved wife.

They considered selling the family home to try to get some of the money they needed.

“[From] January for six months it started to grow, so we started to ask if [the doctor] could do a referral letter so that we could sell the property and ask for donations and take her to the place where she can get [radiotherapy],” Mr Honorobo said.

But Marggeret died first.

That memory brings the stoic Saulo Honorobo to tears.

“Life has become very tough,” he said.

“I’ve got two children, she’s the only one that looked after them, not me, but I am the only one taking care of them now.

“I don’t need anyone to look after them.”

He has vowed to stay in the city of Lae where they have been living, rather than return to his home village, so that his children can study.

“My son is a bright student in secondary school now, he is grade nine now, a good bright student and my daughter will do her elementary school,” he said.

Like being a gardener ‘but they haven’t given you a spade’

At the National Cancer Clinic at the Angau Hospital in Lae, where Marggeret spent some of her final days, Alfred Mel moves through the wards with great ease and familiarity.

The young doctor stops regularly to chat with visiting family members and still manages to make patients laugh, despite the grim circumstances they all find themselves in.

But when questioned about the lack of radiation facilities, there is a sense of helplessness.

“I tell my patients it’s like being a gardener and being told to go to the garden, but they haven’t given you a spade,” he said.

“You know that you can plant the stuff and make it grow, but if you don’t have the spade, who’s going to break the soil?”

Radiotherapy is one of the most common and effective forms of cancer treatment, especially for cervical, throat and mouth cancers, some of the most common forms of the disease in PNG.

The cancer clinic feels more like a palliative care ward.

Early diagnosis is also a major problem in PNG.

Education campaigns are underway to try to ensure people seek help before the cancer is too advanced, but for a country where many people live in remote villages, it is difficult.

Dr Mel said it was especially hard when patients were in the early stages and should have a good chance of beating the disease.

“It’s terribly frustrating and it makes coming to work difficult,” he said.

“It makes talking to patients even more difficult because a lot of my job now is telling patients, if I had this, it would be different.”

He knows that most of his patients will not be able to afford to travel overseas for treatment.

“For 85 per cent of the population, the absence of treatment in country means that they will die, that’s the sad reality of it,” he said.

100 patients sent home to die in a year

In one of the wards, Dr Mel stops to speak to Philomina Isac.

She sits up in her bed and smiles. She has four children and cervical cancer.

“Most of the patients I came with, most of them died,” she said.

“I am the only one now, all the men and women already left us.

“I am here, I say God is helping me.”

Doctors are doing what they can, giving chemotherapy when radiotherapy, or a combination of the two, would be better.

Ms Isac is receiving chemotherapy and is trying to stay positive.

“I don’t want to think too much about it, I want to live each day as they come,” she said.

“Plenty of people thought of dying and they died.

“I get afraid of thinking too much, that maybe I might take my own life just from thinking too much, I am just at peace and waiting.”

John Clarke from local charity, the Cancer Relief Society, said a lack of action from the Government was killing people.

“Last year alone there were 101 patients who had to be turned away because they couldn’t be given cancer treatment,” he said.

Ms Isac is hoping things change.

“I want to say that if the Government can help quickly, please they must try, because the lives of people — it’s like, you close your eyes and wake up, one dies,” she said.

“You close your eyes and wake up, one dies.

“So, I want the Government to help, I pray all the time that God will help us one day.”

Developing countries carry the burden of cancer deaths

The PNG Health Minister Sir Puka Temu has conceded it has taken too long to pass the legislation required to allow the radioactive sources to be brought in so the radiotherapy machine can be used again.

“Over the last three years, commerce and industry, health and now defence has come in as well,” he said,

“We’ve basically concluded those consultations and then we should be able to have the bill passed.”

The legislation has been approved by cabinet and will now be voted on in Parliament.

“We are addressing the cancer issue — it has been a difficult five years,” Sir Puka said.

By 2030, the World Health Organisation expects that 70 per cent of all cancer deaths will be in developing countries.

The stagnant radiation machine is not the only problem facing PNG when it comes to cancer treatment.

On the morning we visit the hospital, four patients have already been turned away because of a shortage of chemotherapy drugs.

The vast majority of the chemotherapy drugs the hospital does have were purchased and supplied by the Cancer Relief Society, not the health department.

The country is also struggling to recruit a radiation oncologist.

Despite this, Dr Mel, who is a clinical oncology registrar, said he could operate the radiation machine until an oncologist was found.

Dr Mel said he would like to see more funding for cancer treatment, but knew that other areas of health like HIV/AIDs and tuberculosis were also in desperate need of financial help.

Health spending was cut by 2 per cent in real terms in last year’s budget, but Sir Puka said that was manageable and denied the health system was in crisis.

The current cancer unit in Lae is being upgraded with assistance from the Australian Government and the health minister said the PNG Government was also planning to build a new cancer treatment centre in Port Moresby.

“If things go well towards the end of this year, we should have the two centres,” he said.

“We are looking at newer anti-cancer instruments, like a linear accelerator, to provide better therapy for our cancer sufferers.”

But that will likely be too late for patients like Philomina Isac.

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Guilt and grief, Lae journalist, Frankiy Kapin, writes about a friend who died of cancer

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21-year-old Ruth Kaupa passed away on January 12, 2019

I was woken up on Sunday morning the 12th of January 2019 by a phone call and the familiar voice  struck me.

And instantly,  rushed in that guilty feeling. My heart broke, yet how was I supposed to feel the grief when I felt a haunting guilt.

The guilt of failing someone I have given hope. Someone who had become a friend, a sister and family.

I never thought I would choose this path nor did she choose me.  But I found her and found it within my heart to accept and take on a challenge.

Now it’s all coming back to me. I am haunted by this guilt.

Twenty-one-year  old Ruth Kaupa had lost her battle to breast cancer at around 5am in the early hours of that Sunday at the Angau hospital.

Ruth was surrounded by her  immediate family members, closed relatives and friends holding hands as she slowly closed her eyes.

I met Ruth last year around June-July and did  my first interview with her and both her parents at their home at Kamkumung in Lae.

I am not the cancer specialist or some medical practitioner.  I began reporting  reporting about cancer in PNG three  ago and over that period I acquired  some understanding  of the problem and the treatment options available in PNG.

Some cancers are  treatable.  But in PNG treatment is lacking simply due to inadequate facilities.

If cancer  is detected early,   the chances of cure  are better.   Late diagnosis resulted in death.

There is a big  ‘cancer awareness gap’ in PNG even though  fundraising drives are held every year  in the name of cancer.

The PNG National Cancer Centre located at Angau hospital in Lae is managed from Port Moresby and is still struggling to get a permanent radiation oncologist since the last full time Radiation Oncologist was the late Doctor John Niblett  passed away in 2017.

The cancer centre established some 50 years ago had its in-patient wards demolished just earlier this month paving way for replacement.

But the few years of reporting  about cancer took a toll on me as I  blamed authorities for their lack of attention and immediate action.

Walking amongst the cancer patients in their wards was like entering a war torn hospital filled up with bomb blasted soldiers.

The pain is so visible in the patients eyes  that  some don’t  complain anymore.

The day I met Ruth changed my approach altogether.    I told Ruth and her parents that it was no point playing  the blame game and waiting…. We had to help ourselves.

If the ships don’t come ashore then let’s swim to them.

And so with backing of the Lae Media,  we took on the challenge for the Ruth Kaupa medical appeal.

Above all, it was Ruth that made that  decision to be the face of a media campaign for better cancer treatment in this country. Not just for her but for every other women and girl out there.

Ruth’s father Brasty Kaupa recalls saying:  “Although Ruth is gone, there are other Ruth’s out there and this is the story  of cancer that every women needs to know and  be prepared.”

Earlier in the week on Sunday after receiving the news of Ruth’s passing,  I sat down trying to  find the starting lines to my story. It was all blank, blank and blank. Not even some two to three words connected. The sentence construction took me all day and all night until 3am the next morning. Still not a one line sentence but just one word. It was guilt.

I figured this must not go on making me become a zombie finding a real purpose.

The few days of hopeless slumber following Ruth’s passing really pushed me to question myself.

What did I do wrong?

Have I failed Ruth?

I questioned myself and the grief that I am going through. How was I supposed to be grieving for someone who I failed?

My grief has now been haunting me because I chose to take on the fight instead of pointing the finger to someone else and expecting them  to do it.

Would I have walked away a long time ago?  Then I  never would have come across this road with Ruth. But there are others like Ruth who are yet to discover the cancer they have. Others have passed away or are now in pain and silently suffering  as they wait to die eventually.

But for how long would this go on? Something needs to be done!

Authorities continue to point out that cancer affects a  minority  of the country’s population so is the allocation of funding, resources and facilities is  proportionate to the affected population.

Cancer treatment is very expensive.  Only a small  minority affected can help themselves.

I remember Ruth’s determination and spirited smile.  She was ready and wanted to take on the fight. To be the face of  the campaign.  But at the back of her mind,  it was the path PNG must take.

What many saw  was that we were raising funds for Ruth to go for radiotherapy treatment overseas. Of course,  it was.

We were running against time and  everyone were being  pushed to the limits and it was Ruth’s parents, Brasty and Bogel Kaupa who stood out the most.

It’s what every right thinking father and mother would do for their sick child.

Maybe I got too close.  I would admit that,  at some point,  I put myself in the shoes of Ruth’s family asking myself, what if that was my daughter?  my sister? or my mother? What would I do?

You tell me if I was wrong and you may be forgetting what it is like to be human.

All along,  Ruth showed great  determination. She was intelligent, respectful and knew  what was coming ahead.

Her sincerity and appreciation to everyone who assisted her was overwhelming.

It was  her determination to make it known to every women and girl in PNG that the cancer services in this country are inadequate.  While we go on blaming the government and concerned authorities we might as well start helping ourselves.

Ruth is the second cancer patient that I have tried to help seek further treatment overseas. To  be honest I was not looking forward to what happened. I had already been there and it was not happening again.

But visiting Ruth’s parents during the week and the conversing made me accept Ruth’s fate that though she didn’t deserve to lose her life in such way. Only God has the answers.

What you and I and everyone need to get out from Ruth’s struggle is not her death, but the life she lived.

 

Last year businessman and former Madang Governor who spoke following the passing of Dr Niblett said back then when he was health minister,  the cancer unit was  run down. He said there was reluctance within the DoH to really support the cancer unit.

“When you consider the money being used to build   freeways, hotels, fund events mainly in Port Moresby,  it is hard to come to terms when there is a real need for specialized treatment in PNG, particularly outside Port Moresby.   This does not just cover cancer, the shortage of dialysis machines is another concern along with the trained specialists and consumables needed to provide treatment in PNG where many people have the choice of dying earlier or if they can raise money, seek treatment abroad,” Sir Peter Barter said.

We see and contribute to annual fundraisers by NGOs backed by reputable corporate houses in the name of cancer. Even the month of October is dedicated to cancer and where does all the money go?

Take a walk through the Angau Cancer wards and see  the cancer patients.     The pain and suffering of cancer is immense and  intolerable.

They are  family members,  friends and  loved ones who need your support and the same care as any other patient.

Coming this far with Ruth and her family  will forever be my guilty grief.

Rest In Peace Ruth Kaupa

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.

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.