Then National, Wednesday 12th September, 2012
By YVONNE HAIP
THE Southern Highlands disaster and emergency relief team wants Governor William Powi to act immediately to assess and rectify damage to the province which has been severely affected by continuous rain over the past two weeks.
The provincial disaster team, coordinated by Martin Pat, has made several long-term and immediate action recommendations to the National Disaster Committee after last Thursday’s disaster in the province.
It is also calling for the Works Department to urgently establish access passages for schoolchildren, public servants and the general public in the areas affected.
The team says in its report that construction work can be sub-contracted to a reputable local firm, while hire cars can be used for at least a month.
The team said the bodies of the three children believed to be buried by a landslide in the lower Mendi area last Thursday, needed to be retrieved and proper burials made.
It called on the provincial works department to immediately identify Bailey bridges that could be used for bridging the Yalo River.
The important bridge over the river, linking the Kagua-Erave electorate and rest of the Southern Highlands, was washed away by the raging river on a day which saw landslips and flooding also hit Kagua, Erave, Kutubu, Poroma, the Nembi plateau and parts of Imbongu as a result of the many days of rain.
The provincial disaster committee is planning to distribute some food, water and canvas to the most affected areas such as the Yalo River and Wara Bung.
Long-term recommendations include substantial disaster and emergency funding to be stowed in the provincial disaster and emergency trust accounts.
These funds can be used to purchase and install simple but vital equipment such as rain gauges in remote parts of the province.
They also want the Works Department and appropriate authorities to visit all infrastructure periodically.
Among the recommendations was for a special task force to be put in place to immediately ward off unnecessary compensation demands and allow for the reconstruction processes.
The team comprised Dianne Kende, representing the Prime Minister’s office and National Executive Council, Patrick Obas from the governor’s office, works and provincial civil engineer Waine Onno, commerce and local representative chief John Ore and police commander Supt Sibron Papoto.