Morobe leaders listen to people’s plea of persecution, oppression

Momase, Normal

The National, Thursday 23rd May 2013


FOR the first time in decades, a plea to address Morobe’s decaying infrastructure and moribund public service was heard in one sitting by political leaders of the province during a petition presentation at the National Agriculture Research Institute’s (NARI) Bubia research station outside Lae city last week.

It was prompted by a petition delivered to Governor Kelly Naru and four other MPs two weeks ago following the tragic death of a local Lutheran pastor in Lae last month.

Kewa Michael was killed after he tried to aid distressed female passengers being harassed by men who were clearly drunk.

He was hit on the head with a heavy object and his body thrown off the moving vehicle along the Bumayong backroad on the city’s periphery.

The callous killing of the pastor is being seen as a turning point by local people who have long sought an end to violent crimes.

A group of petitioners, calling  themselves The Voice of Morobe, are saying that the tragic incident is a reflection of the more than 30 years of persecution and oppression in a hostile city on their own land.

While not entirely accurate, it is indisputable that Lae city has suffered bloody and costly ethnic violence intermittently, the worst cases happening in 2011 and last year.

Morobeans also feel they have been forced to endure government mismanagement for too long, the evidence showing all around them in the form of pothole-ridden roads, poorly-maintained school facilities, and water and power supply networks that have not been expanded to meet the pace of urban drift from the highlands.

Naru admits having inherited a messy legacy.

“I am horrified by the dismal state of the government and province I have inherited,” Naru said on a recent visit to Siassi Island, the most remote constituency in the province.

Lae Chamber of Commerce president Alan McLay expressed satisfaction in the outcome of the Bubia meet last week.

 “It now remains for the governor to implement his transport and land policies,” McLay said this week.

Although only five of a total of nine MPs were at the Bubia meeting, McLay felt it was a good sign.

 “It is a pretty good start.”

Importantly, the meeting signalled the emergence of a new and aggressive political will to improve the lot of Morobeans.

Along with Naru, MPs Loujaya Toni, Sam Basil, Siniwin Gisuat and Ross Seymour acknowledged the urgency to reinstate security and create economic opportunities for their people.

Following the Bubia meet, there is a sense that Morobe now had the right people at the helm.

Pesa Takos, a signatory to the Morobe petition told The National the leadership was a good mix of young energy and old wisdom that had the potential to guide Morobe to its full economic potential.

There are many challenges ahead for the leaders and only time will tell if Takos’ assessment is correct.