By ZACHERY PER
A LANDSLIDE has cut off the Indaunmuno section of the Kundiawa-Gembogl road, the only connection for the people of Gembogl in north Simbu.
Several other landslides have also occurred following prolonged heavy rains, washing away hillside food gardens, villages and cemeteries into the Simbu River.
The floods are believed to have claimed five lives, two men, two little girls and an infant who drowned in the rivers.
Two teachers from Mt Wilhelm High School – Theodore Pagau and Vincent Don – said the people of Gembogl were suffering in silence as no one was there to help them.
“The destruction is very severe. It warrants immediate Government intervention in form of assessments, evaluations and reporting to the National Disaster Center (NDC) for relief support.
“Foremost, for the well-being of the people is for the road to be restored immediately,” Mr Don said.
He said the high school, Maina Technical School, 12 primary schools, more than 25 elementary schools, four health centers, churches, public servants in Gembogl sub-districts and Digicel towers at four locations providing vital communication links were all affected.
“The high school has run out of fuel (diesel), food rations and other necessities. We are seeking permission from the Simbu provincial education office to shut down the school,” he said.
Mr Pagau, who is the deputy principal, said the school spent a lot of money on carriers last month when the Womatne section of the road was cut off by a similar landslide.
“We don’t have enough money to continue paying carriers for the current cut off, so we have agreed to close down the school indefinitely pending the restoration of the road,” he said.
The road is the only link for more than 50,000 people of Mitnande and Niglkande local level governments and also serves Bundi people of Usino-Bundi district Madang province.
It also serves international tourists heading for PNG’s highest mountain Mt Wilhelm, which is 4,509m above sea level in Gembogl district.
Kundiawa-Gembogl MP Joe Mek Teine, when contacted yesterday, vowed to reopen the access as soon as possible.
“We will get the road cleared and repaired as soon as possible. The district administrator and public servants will be in Gembogl this week to assess the damages and repairs.
“We will give our top priority to fix the road in the shortest time possible,” Mr Teine said.
He said a major rehabilitation for the Kundiawa-Gembogl road would be launched in Kundiawa on April 16.
Attempts to get comments from the provincial disaster office were unsuccessful.