The National, Friday August 30th, 2013
PLANS by the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) to relocate its administration headquarters back to Arawa are still in the pipeline, Arawa town mayor Mathias Salas says.
He said the ABG had yet to finalise its plans to repatriate people displaced by the Bougainville crisis to their original homes in Panguna, Arawa, Kieta, Loloho and Toniva.
“Many of the displaced people are still living in Arawa town and residing in houses which were formerly occupied in the pre-crisis period by public servants and the Panguna mine employees,” Salas said.
“They are still waiting for the ABG to give them hope to restart their lives back their homes and only and unless such plan is forthcoming, they will not vacate houses they are now occupying in Arawa.”
He also expressed concerned at the lack of response by the ABG to restore basic municipal services in Arawa, including water, sanitation and sewerage system.
“Arawa has now become a hub of economic activities with influx of small to medium entrepreneurs setting up businesses and this has immensely contributed to the growth in population in Arawa,” Salas said.
“The growth in population has then contributed to the blockage in the sewerage system where raw materials was visibly oozing out from the blockage funnels, causing health hazard to Arawa town residents.
“The ABG must fix the sewerage system first before it embarks on relocating the administration headquarters to Arawa.”
He added that there was a need for a proper water system to cater for the growing population in Arawa.
He said many homes that did not have tanks to store rain water were resorting to using bore water as well as water from the two rivers running in the middle of Arawa Town, Bovo and Tupukas.
“Both the bore water and the water from the two rivers are now becoming contaminated because of alluvial mining activities in the Kupe mountains at the backdrop of Arawa town,” Salas said.
“These alluvial miners are using highly toxic chemicals to separate mineral ore from the rocks and their tailings are somehow seeping into the rivers.
“This is a great concern to me because it is posing toxic to human life and the ABG has turned death ears on us despite our numerous cries and submissions after submissions for clean water.
“The ABG just simply cannot embark on pushing for its administration headquarters to be relocated to Arawa without first fixing the basic municipal services.”