Authority to replace disaster centre

National, Normal

The National, Thursday 09th Febuary 2012

THE National Disaster Centre will be overhauled and its status upgraded to that of an authority with the resources and tools to respond effectively to disasters and emergencies in Papua New Guinea.
Minister for Inter-Government Relations Mark Maipakai said recent disasters in PNG had shown inadequacies at the centre.
“The key to disaster risk reduction is preparedness and mitigation,” he said.
“The centre is understaffed and poorly resourced to promptly and effectively respond to disasters and emergencies.”
He said its response to date had been on an ad hoc basis, “meaning there were no funds readily available for the centre to draw from as and when events unfolded”.
“Each time an incident is reported, a National Executive Council submission is prepared and put to cabinet to source funds. This is not a healthy and proactive way to respond to disasters and emergencies in the country,” Maipakai said.
He said the acting secretary for Provincial and Local Level Government Affairs Russel Ikosi and National Disaster and Emergency Service acting director Martin Mose had been instructed to restructure and upgrade the status of the centre to that of an authority.
“Provincial disaster managers will be absorbed under the authority and we will strengthen the disaster network and arrangements at provincial level right down to LLGs.”
A review of the national disaster management plan had already started.
“We must place more emphasis on disaster preparedness and mitigation and disaster reduction to reduce risk and impact on lives and properties.”
Maipakai said he would look at setting up a seed fund to allow the authority to generate funding for disaster work in the country.
Transport and Works Minister Francis Awesa said the loss of lives through three different disasters in the past few months in PNG was unprecedented.
Twenty-eight people were killed last October in a plane crash near Madang, the landslide in the Southern Highlands buried a village and at least 25 people are confirmed dead.
And more than 100 passengers remained missing and are believed to have died in last Thursday’s ferry sinking off Finschhafen.
“It’s been a terrible year for us. We’ve gone through a difficult time in our country’s short history. Most of these are due to weather but some of it is human error.”
lSee Editorial, Page 36