Bridge blocked

Main Stories, National

The National, Monday 17th June 2013


HUNDREDS of vehicles moving in and out of Hela are stranded on either side of the Lai River bridge in Southern Highlands after locals put a chain across the bridge.

This follows the ransacking of a store belonging to a businessman last Friday in a dispute with police.

Trucking companies engaged with the PNG LNG project were also affected. 

Locals held back some vehicles promising the companies that they would be released after the matter was addressed.

David Kelei, owner of the store in Tari, said the roadblock at River Lai would be lifted when a favourable response was received from the appropriate people in Hela. 

Pisgah Ltd lost two days of takings of more than K100,000 in cash and many times that in value of stock which had just arrived last Thursday.

It started when police in Tari town last Friday tried to disperse groups of men gambling at the market. 

A fight broke out and the policemen who were outnumbered started firing into the air to disperse the crowd. However three people received pellet wounds and were admitted to the Tari Hospital.

Another was hit by a flying object and was last night fighting for his life at the Tari Hospital intensive care unit.

Provincial police commander Supt Jimmy Onopia confirmed the incident saying news was quickly passed around among the angry crowd that the officer who fired the shots was a Southern Highlander.

They then turned on the employees of Pisgah Ltd and ransacked the store situated about 150m away.

The nine employees of the store fled for their lives.

Onopia said everything has been taken care of and is under control.