ENB mudslide causes uproar

National, Normal


MUDSLIDES have hit East New Britain’s Kokopo-Rabaul road sparking uproar among local businessmen and residents.
The mudslides, caused by heavy rain, have made the road almost impassable and had damaged private properties.
Businesses said the authorities refused to clear the road “because there was no funding”.
ENB Chamber of Commerce in a statement said business houses were fed up with the problem.
“We ask the province to help. They explained it was national road.
“So we ask Works but they tell us that the road was not funded for maintenance so we should ask Planning.
“We do not know who is responsible but we cannot believe that anyone would build a road and allocate nothing for maintenance,” the chamber’s statement read.
Malaguna, Tavana Valaur, Kuradui and Malapau villages were badly affected by the mudslides.
Vehicles are also having a difficult time trying to get past and often get stuck.
It is also impossible for people to walk, PMVs will not stop there and when the mud dries up, it becomes a dust bowl every time a car drives through.
One angry villager said: “When my grandfathers gave this land to be turned a road, we expected that it would be something we could use and benefit from.
“Now, the land is useless and we wished we had told them to build their road somewhere else.”
David Stein, boss of Nivani Ltd, said they had one of their big trucks sitting at the Rabaul port and needed to be brought into Kokopo.
This week, to ease the situation on the impassable road, the company, at its own cost, used one of their graders to clear up the road and sent the bill to the Department of Works.
The department is expected to issue a purchase order.
Mr Stein said the point here was that it should not be the businesshouses telling Works that the roads were not good, but rather, for Works to respond in a timely manner.
He said part of the long-term problem was upstream in the catchment areas which required hard work on the part of the Government to sort out erosion issues.
Rosemary Sovek, a Malaguna community representative and a member of the ENB chamber of commerce, said: “We are speaking the same language as the villagers who are affected by the mudflows.”
The road was designed by AusAID experts and is only six years old.