By PETER WARI
A GROUP of people rubbed in clay as a sign of mourning marched through the street of Mendi, Southern Highlands, on Friday wanting peace and normalcy restored.
The group was made up of students, youths, elderly people and representatives of stakeholders and demanded that hospitals, banks and schools be reopened following the recent election-related unrest in Mendi town.
The forum was organised by the people living around town known as the Kambiri and Undiri people from parts of Lower Mendi local-level government.
Representing the business community, Wantok Trading Ltd owner Martin Lucas said the province could not continue to let criminals destroy properties, and kill, harass and intimidate innocent people.
He said the business community would close their operations if the people of Southern Highlands could not assure them that there would be peace.
“We cannot operate when the bank, airport and post office are closed,” Lucas said.
“How can we operate when they are closed?
“There are few people coming to town.
“Goods have been sitting on the shelves for two months.
“We have laid off some workers which affect their families.”
Lucas said the people of Southern Highlands must understand that those involved in the law-and-order problem were not ordered by Governor William Powi or the regional candidates.
“These people are frustrated supporters and opportunists,” he said.
“The effect is felt by everyone including the innocent Hela people.
“These leaders have homes elsewhere and their students sent to better schools while the poor people of Southern Highlands are destroying services which they and their family will benefit from.”
Mendi Day Secondary School principal Timsy Sap said students would sit for the national examination this week and it was important that the vehicle for one of the school inspectors stolen from her yard be returned immediately.
By PETER WARI