By GABRIEL FITO
MORE than 100 Moem Barracks soldiers, who were discharged from the army in 2000, are urging the PNG Defence Force to speed up the settlement of their entitlements so that they can return to their villages.
The 113 soldiers were retrenched 10 years ago but they are still staying in the barracks under trying conditions with only about K100 a fortnight to cater to their household needs including food, school fees for their children, medical expenses and other obligations.
A group of the ex-soldiers told The National yesterday that life at the barracks had become too difficult for them to bear as their school children could not attend higher educational institutions when they were still struggling to have an adequate meal daily.
They said younger soldiers who were trained by them and had served
fewer than 10 years were retrenched and paid off between K60,000 and K90,000 but they
were paid between K15,000 and K20,000.
“It is total injustice for the years of service,” they said.
They said many of them started serving the army before independence and the defence hierarchy now wanted to repatriate them with nothing to commemorate their loyalty, commitment and dedication to the nation.
Spokesman John Kapo said: “There have been several court proceedings on our grievances, the recent being at Waigani last September where the court ordered that we be paid before Christmas so that we could leave for our villages.
“We are still waiting.”
He said since 2000, a total of 11 ex-soldiers waiting for their entitlements in Moem had passed away and nine family members of soldiers in their group had also died.
“Most of us are reaching old age and do not wish to die in the barracks but in our villages where we can settle down with our families,” he said.
The ex-soldiers claimed the army was inhumanely treating them and appealed to anyone who could help to contact 76362102, 71358835 or 71316881.