Addressing ethnic issues in Port Moresby

Normal, Weekender

The National, Friday, May 13, 2011

Moves are underway to form a database to monitor the movement of Hela people in and out of the NCD and Central, writes JUNIOR UKAHA


A VOLUNTEER group from the newly established Hela province have set out to identify their people living in Port Moresby and Central province and help them become better citizens.
Led by coordinator Cyril Amburi the team, comprising about 170 volunteers have embarked on a pilot-project dubbed the Hela Demographic Survey (HDS) with the theme “Hela back to glory days”.
The project has received no backing from any political body or leaders from the area except for a little logistical help from HTA chairman and Tari-Pori MP, James Marape. 
The “brain child” of Amburi, it came about in 2006 when he observed that life in the city was difficult and many people struggled hard to make ends meet.
He said many of these people end up breaking the laws to survive and create problems for themselves and others.
Amburi and his deputy, Thomas Yago, made particular reference to the recent spate of ethnic clashes and killings in the city involving their kinsmen and people from other areas.
The most recent being the Gordons market violence between the Engans and the Taris and the Koki ethnic clash between the Taris and the Goilalas which resulted in a number of brutal deaths.  
“We are tired of sending four to five body bags to the village every now and then,” Yago said.
“We are also tired of people branding us (Hela) as trouble makers,” he added
Amburi said they hoped the project would find solutions to some of the problems faced by their people and others living in Port Moresby.
The project aims to: 
* Identify and know exactly how many people of Hela origin are living in NCD and Central province;
* Know what exactly that each Hela citizen is doing in the city (i.e. working, schooling, operating business, farming, selling buai etc)
* Mobilise, reorganise and educate the Hela people to become good and responsible citizens;
* Send wandering Helas back to their land to develop the new province that is coming up in 2012;
* Form a Hela database to do surveillance on the movement of Hela people in and out of the NCD and Central; 
* Help the National Statistical Office with the forthcoming National Population and Housing Survey 2011; and
* Ease law and other problems in the city by identifying all trouble makers from Hela.
Amburi said their move has received overwhelming support from the Hela population and from people of other origins residing in NCD.
The HDS started on April 8, after a day of induction at the Granville Hotel where more than 150 volunteers were tasked to collect data from the people. The volunteers were trained by Hela elites and were given uniforms, stationery and a comprehensive set of questionnaires for their subjects.
The volunteers have a mammoth task of surveying an estimated population of 200,000 people (18 yrs and above) from 235 ward councils from 12 LLG’s in three electorates in Hela who call NCD and Central their home.
The count will cover people from Tepi, Tagali, Hayapuga, Pori, Tari, (Tari-Pori electorate), North and South Koroba, Kopiago, Awi Lagayu (Koroba-Kopiago electorate), Komo, Hulia, Upper and Lower Wage LLG’s (Komo-Margarima electorate) residing in NCD.
According to the organisers, the survey clerks have just three weeks to carry out their task.  The survey team was organised into twelve major groups representing the 12 different LLG’s and have around 20,000 questionnaires per group to deliver within the said time frame.
The survey officials know their subjects well and can identify them easily since they are from the same family, clan, tribe, ward, and LLG in line with the “haus lain” concept.  
The findings will be used to create a database for all Hela people residing in NCD and Central and will be presented in a report with appropriate recommendations to the province’s national leaders.
TA chief executive officer, William Bando, a proponent of the project said the project is a first of its kind initiative and something that will transform the mindset of the people of Hela to see the developments taking place in their land and return to participate in it.