Violence forces airport to stay shut


THE Kagamuga airport in Mt Hagen, Western Highlands, will be closed for an indefinite period of time because of the unrest in the area, according to the National Airports Corporation.
Acting managing director and chief executive officer Richard Yopo said the “current unrest and continued intrusion into the runway” forced them to close the airport.
“With the amount of pressure and intimidation our staff are going through, we cannot guarantee a safe and secure environment for our staff, operators and other aviation related entities. We have issued the necessary advice to all airmen and operators,” he said.
Provincial police commander Chief Superintendent Martin Lakari had said earlier the airport should be reopened because its closure was affecting travellers and businesses.
Flights in and out of Mt Hagen were stopped on Sunday after people unhappy with the declaration of William Duma as Hagen MP protested and poured diesel on the runway.
Businesses in Mt Hagen closed down when a protest march was staged. A petition was presented to the election officials in Western Highlands on Tuesday.
Lakari said while the protestors awaited the response to their petition, public services must be allowed to continue.
“It’s very important for people to understand that aeroplanes and helicopters do an important job in transporting people and cargo,” he said.
“We must not let these services delayed any longer. Businesses and people depend on them.”
He said the city was quiet with only small shops opened.

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