The National, Friday October 23rd, 2015
THIS month (Nov) marks the 16th year of the displacement of Manam Islanders in Madang province through a natural disaster, a volcanic eruption.
Natural disasters happen without warnings unlike man-made disasters.
The Manam islanders are victims of a volcanic eruption that lasted for several days but the aftermath of that natural disaster has been caused by human beings.
It’s obvious that all levels of government – Bogia district administration, Madang provincial administration and the National Government have created a disaster for these people by failing to find an amicable solution to the problem for 16 long years.
These resilient people have been neglected by a country and government which has turned a blind eye on them.
Their appeal for help to find a permanent resettlement land is not new. It’s been there ever since the disaster unfolded.
Whatever is hindering the passing of the Manam Restoration Authority Bill should be resolved immediately to allow progress on the resettlement negotiations to proceed.
If the Andarum people do not want the Islanders to settle on their land, then why can’t the Government negotiate and purchase land from traditional owners where the displaced people are currently residing according to population statistics and further inland to cater for future expansion.
This is more realistic as many will appreciated living on the coast as they’ve been living all their lives.
I appeal once again on behalf of my beloved people to relevant Government authorities and non-government organisations to relieve the Manam Islanders of their prolonged agony.
Let’s be pragmatic. Some things had to be done in earnest while others can wait till the urgency arises.
Sixteen years is too long.