Matupit Islanders still refusing to relocate

Islands, Normal


MATUPIT Islanders, who live near the active Mt Tavurvur volcano, are still stubbornly refusing the East New Britain provincial government’s bid to relocate them to safer grounds elsewhere in the Gazelle Peninsula.
They remain steadfast in their refusal to leave their island despite the provincial government incentive of ample land for home, gardening and building materials at Sikut.
The provincial administration noted this last week under its resettlement programmes to resettle people affected by the continued threat of Mt Tavurvur in sub-divided blocks at Sikut.
Preference had been given to the people of the Balanataman local level government in the Rabaul district.
Provincial administrator Akuila Tubal has directed the Rabaul district administration to evacuate the people to Sikut, where clearing of land and sub-division had been completed, however, many were reluctant to leave their traditional land.
Mr Tubal said the people of Matupit had continued to ignore the repeated administration efforts to move them.
He said everything was being provided for them in Sikut, including land measuring 15mx30m allocated to each family, roofing irons provided by Rabaul MP Dr Allan Marat and an additional 2ha of land for farming.
“People should be happy to settle into their new home,” Mr Tubal said, adding that he was on the island last month to plead with them to start moving in the New Year.
Under the resettlement programme, the provincial government is also building an elementary school and a reticulated water supply and supplying electricity to homes.
Rabaul district administrator Wilson Matava said there had been more than 10 meetings with Matupit islanders to convince them to move.
Mr Matava said the administration would not use force but hoped that common sense would prevail.
He said the Matupit people were not the only people affected by the volcano and needed to be relocated as there were other people also at risk.
There had been no major eruptions since the twin eruptions of Tavurvur and nearby Mt Vulcan in 1994 although the former continues to rumble and occasionally spew out too much ash that has temporarily closed down Rabaul’s Tokua Airport on many occasions.