Locals: Wenge for settlements

Lae News, Normal

The National, Tuesday, June 7th 2011

MOROBE Governor Luther Wenge who is seen as a supporter of squatter settlements in industrial Lae, was on Saturday threatened by Morobeans affected and involved in the recent ethnic uprising on the Back Road.
A Morobean youth of Kabwum origin was murdered last Wednesday night and the body was found near the roadside the next day.
That led to Morobeans living on the Back Road area mobilising and attacking the cluster of Western Highlanders, most of who are involved in the public motor vehicle industry, late last Thursday, with the violence spilling over into the weekend.
The Kabwums, who had led the attacks against the fleeing Western Highlanders, gathered over the weekend and voiced their concern at the influx of Highlanders into the province.
They said the Highlanders had no respect for locals and the laws by engaging in economic activities while flouting the regulations.
They blamed Wenge for all the ethnic troubles in the city and towns, saying he encouraged settlers.
The angry mob, comprising mostly Morobeans living between the Back Road and Speedway warned Wenge not to put the people of Morobe at ransom.
They said Wenge should stand up against the mistreatment of his people, which ranged from paying illegal bus fees imposed by the Western Highlanders, the non-stop harassment at bus stops and being treated as outsiders at the Lae Main Market where their womenfolk were forced to sell outside.
The uprising on the Back Road was the second involving the Western Highlands community in Lae.
The Western Highlanders are largely seen as the force behind the city’s PMV industry.
A senior traffic registry officer was run over by a PMV three weekends ago in Lae at a roadblock at Speedway.
That accident saw the traffic registry stepping up in its effort against illegal PMV operators while all the operators met to sort out compensation to the relatives of the officer killed.
Reports indicated a lot of destruction to property belonging to Western Highlanders but police said six PMV buses, five private vehicles, three trade stores, 20 houses had been destroyed, but no deaths recorded and no arrests made yet.