By PATRICK TALU
IT will cost more than K2 million to repair damage done to PNG Power power poles and lines in Southern Highlands province, its provincial manager Paul Gonapa said yesterday.
Disgruntled landowners near the Walume-Ialubu junction to Kereni in Imbongu district vandalised the lines and cut down 22 power poles in recent weeks.
Mr Gonapa said PNG Power was losing at least K500,000 a month since the destruction last December when the lines were felled after villagers claimed the Works Department was taking too long to pay them for the improvements along the road under the Highlands Highway Rehabilitation Programme.
Mr Gonapa said the landowners’ frustration with the National Government had nothing to do with PNG Power.
Meanwhile, PNG Power has started construction of power poles and lines for Kumbame-Ialibu.
Engineers and linesmen began working on the project last week and have covered 6km already
He made it clear that this project was not rerouting the power lines but it would use its existing plan.
Local MP Francis Awesa condemned vandalising of public properties, saying that, “it is stupid because the power supply destruction almost cost innocent lives of many who were on drip and life-saving equipment at Mendi General Hospital.”
“Also, as a result, such irresponsible and criminal action of the hooligans, business house in Mendi town and others lost thousands of kina,” Mr Awesa said as he approved the release K150,000 to restore the power supply.
Mr Gonapa confirmed receiving the money but restoration would depend on how fast the aggrieved landowners and the National Government resolved the outstanding issues.