Kerema faces food crisis

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday, May 24, 2011

PUBLIC servants and their families in Kerema town, Gulf, are facing a food crisis after major shops in the township shut down because of the lack of banking services.
The only bank in town – Bank South Pacific – has been closed since 2008 after it was allegedly robbed by convicted bank robber William Nanua Kapris and his gang. 
Kerema police station commander Insp Heni Vagi said, since last week, public servants and their families had been travelling to Port Moresby to shop.
“Basic commodities like rice, tinned fish and meat, sugar and salt are out of stock in all stores,” Vagi said.
“Major shops have closed their doors because they have run out of food,” he said.
He said the town’s flagship stores that had closed included Kerema Traders, ANDQ Trading and Mala Trading.
Vagi said no banking services coupled with increase in fuel prices and bad road conditions “have forced the shops to shut down doors”.
He said the food crisis affected schools, health workers, provincial government workers and the local police.
He said the Ila Karaita Primary School and the Kerema Coronation High School had sent students home while teachers went on strike yesterday demanding government intervention to restore banking services.
“I was informed by the school’s head that the teachers are planning a strike yesterday,” Vagi said.
He said local police had responded to the situation by referring all cases involving small offences to village councillors and community leaders to handle while they (police) handled serious cases.
He said ration for people on remand that was normally sourced locally had ceased and they were now ordering food from retailers in Port Moresby.
Vagi said he has “no idea when the services will be restored”.
He said commitments were made by Governor Havila Kavo and local MP Titus Pitom Bombom to restore banking services after the Kapris robbery but nothing had been done.
Attempts to get comments from BSP chief executive officer Ian Clyne yesterday were unsuccessful as he was out of the country.