SCHOOL students in Port Moresby who use the National Library for their school work and assignments during this crucial examination period were in for a rude shock yesterday when they arrived to find the place closed.
The library, located at Waigani, closed its doors last Thursday after PNG Power disconnected its electricity supply due to non-payment of dues of around K100,000.
The facility is the latest in a long list of Government agencies to be evicted for non-payment of rentals, or have their utilities disconnected over unpaid bills.
These include the Somare Foundation building, whose power supply has been disconnected. The building houses key Government entities including the departments of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Provincial and Local Level Governments, Environment and Conservation and the National Disaster Centre, among others.
The Department of Petroleum and Energy office at Konedobu was also in darkness yesterday, for the same reason.
The Office of Climate Change and Environment Sustainability and the National Cultural Commission were also locked out in the past month for non-payment of rentals and utility bills.
National librarian Karina Bundu told The National yesterday that PNG Power workers arrived last Thursday around lunch time and cut their power supply.
As a result, they had to close the library.
“This has caused the users and staff frustration as this is the only public library that most students come in to do their assignments and research and it was very disappointing to see them go back home,” she said.
“We don’t know what the problem is, whether we did not put in our claims early for the payment, I don’t really know,” she said.
The National Library is a division of the Education Department and she said they were given funding of K220,000 to maintain utilities, including power and water, till the end of the year but this had proven otherwise.
She said that they used to face similar power cuts previously because of claims not raised on time but this was the first time since the library was shut for renovations in April 2006 and reopened last year.
The library was established in 1978.
“Our demand of power usage has gone up because we have expanded our reading room and we are open from 9am-5pm weekdays and Saturday 9am-1pm, which indicates very high power consumption from the workload we have,” she said.
She assured users that the library would reopen as soon as power supply was restored.
The National caught up with students from Gerehu Secondary and Gordon Secondary schools who were still waiting outside the library yesterday afternoon hoping it would open.
A Grade Nine student, Grayson Ieme from Gerehu Secondary, said it was a “stupid excuse” as it was a big library and should be open at all times.
“We came last Friday and today again just to find out that it was still closed and it has really affected us, the users of the library, in completing our assignment,” he said.
His classmates said they could not go to the Somare Library at the University of Papua New Guinea as they were not allowed there.
They said it was disappointing because the National Library was the only library they could come to do their research.
Melvin Tawapi and his friends from Gordon Secondary said the relevant authorities must hurry up and do something to resolve the matter.
“If the library remains closed for a long time, this will affect not only us but also those other students and the public who come here for work and school purposes,” he said.
A PNG Power public relations official declined to comment, saying that she could not discuss their customers’ bills because of confidentiality issues.
The Education Department could not be reached for comments despite many attempts yesterday.