By YVONNE HAIP
HEAVY rainfall and continuous landslips along the Highlands Highway is affecting business houses and consumers in the Highlands region.
Gas distributors in the province confirmed the state of the Highlands Highway caused a shortage in supplies.
However, they believed the problem would be rectified when the roadblock at Daulo in the Eastern Highlands province is cleared.
The highway had been impassable for two weeks after a bridge collapsed at Henganofi.
Last week, a landslide occurred in the Daulo area, near the Simbu and Eastern Highlands border, preventing trucks from passing through.
Last Friday, travellers from Goroka told The National that they were dropped off at Daulo and had to walk for 30 minutes, crossing a landslide area which had blocked most of the highway, in order to switch onto another bus bound for Mt Hagen or Simbu.
There has also been an increase in fuel prices in the provinces and villagers have expressed concern over the price of kerosene.
Baisu villager, Win Joe, said the price had increased by about 30% and a litre of kerosene, which previously cost between K2.70 and K3.
He called on relevant authorities to make sure the price decreased when the highway was cleared.
He said it was a normal practice in the province when businesses increased their prices, using such situations as an excuse, they failed to decrease them once operations returned to normal.
Meanwhile, betelenut chewers in Porgera, Enga province, are now chewing avocado cores with hibiscus leaves dipped in lime, as a substitute for betelenut.
According to Steven Tuxey, who returned to Mt Hagen from Porgera on Sunday, this combination was similar to betelenut and mustard but the spittle was purple.
He called on those living near affected sections of the highway to stop imposing fees on vehicles and travellers as it was an impediment to development.
It is believed that the Porgera gold mine could also be affected due to the shortage of fuel supplies if the situation persists, but this could not be confirmed.