By YVONNE HAIP
ABOUT 6,000 people in Imbonggu district, Southern Highlands, have been cut off from access to goods and services after floods washed away the Kumin-Oma bridge last Thursday.
The flooding of the Kumin-Oma River also destroyed food gardens, four churches and several homes located in the Lower Mendi area.
School children, workers and the travelling public walked long distances to catch PMVs on the other side of the bridge at Kumin.
Sick people were carried across the bridge to waiting vehicles to seek medication elsewhere.
Provincial disaster prevention coordinator Martin Pat said landslips into the river had also caused the river bed to swell and urgently requires an excavator to clear out the soil and other debris.
He said assessments had been sent to the national disaster office and other relevant authorities and were currently waiting for a favourable answer.
Pat said the total estimated cost to repair the bridge was K250,000 and called on relevant authorities to promptly address the issue.
The worn-out bridge, situated between the Kumine and Wames villages, was built 30 years ago and had never been replaced with a new one.
In August 2008, part of the road was washed away during a heavy rain but no attempts were made to save the road and bridge.
In July this year, floods nearly swept the bridge away and deposited debris like logs, uprooted trees and other materials on the bridge made it impossible for the trucks and vehicles to pass through.
The people had blamed the provincial governments for the delay in releasing the disaster and emergency funds which could have been used to repair the bridge two years ago when part of it was washed away.
The provincial disaster prevention office had on numerous occasions called for emergency funds to be released to repair the bridge but to no avail.