Gav Stoa settlers ask for 6 months

National, Normal

The National, Friday, June 10th 2011

COMMUNITY leaders from the Gav Stoa settlement in Madang have asked the Madang provincial government to consider letting them stay until the end of this year.
In a June 3 letter to the provincial administrator Ben Lange, the ward councillors and village court magistrates asked that their plea be favourably considered on humanitarian grounds.
Two weeks ago, provincial government officials, escorted by police, had issued eviction notices, asking for voluntary eviction.
The eviction notices came about after continuous harassment and attacks on staff and students of the three major institutions in the area – Madang Technical College, Divine Word University and Maritime College.
The three institutions were forced to stage a peaceful protest march to the provincial government headquarters giving an ultimatum to either have the settlers move or they would take matters into their own hands.
The eviction deferral request, according to the community leaders, was because, more than 500 children from Gav Stoa settlement at school were nearing their mid term exams; employed residents needing employers approval for alternate arrangements; and that their natural justice has been denied.
They pleaded for a time extension until the end of the year while they organised themselves.
In the meantime, they had given their full support to the provincial government, police and others involved in the eviction exercise of their full cooperation, even scolding their youths to surrender homebrew making equipment to police.
The Gav Stoa leaders also asked that the provincial law and order committee behind the evictions target specific problematic families and leave genuine settlers alone.
Provincial station commander and head of the law and order committee, Chief Insp Steven Kaipa said yesterday that the provincial administration was yet to consider and respond but was pleased with the progress and cooperation of the Gav Stoa settlers so far.
“This whole exercise is for the benefit of the three institutions,” he said.