The National- Wednesday, January 12, 2011
By ELIZABETH VUVU
WITH the revitalisation of two vital bridges in Namatanai, the people of Namatanai have openly expressed that they can now feel the fresh breathe of freedom of access.
For the past 15 years the people have had to endure misery and hardship by commuters, who had to tolerate wet crossing and often complete halt, during flooding of the Punam and Moronai rivers on the East Coast Highway.
Work on the temporary bridges started last week by a road contractor allowing free access across both rivers that have been the greatest obstacles for people holding up traffic during wet seasons, forcing people to camp and sleep at the river banks, that are less than one kilometre apart.
Community leader Peter Maori said this was a real breakthrough and the whole of Namatanai was breathing a sigh of relief.
“People have suffered for too long and no one seems to care, but now we feel the fresh breath of freedom of access.”
He said both bridges had been out and broken over the past 10-15 years during the reign of governors late Paul Tohian and Ling-Stuckey, and nothing had been done to fix them.
He thanked Governor Sir Julius Chan for his intervention to rescue the people.
Sir Julius was reportedly towed twice across Punam River before Christmas and after New Year, but on his return to Kavieng, and feeling the hurt and suffering of his people, he ordered the immediate bridging of the river.
Aloga contractors bridged the second river at Moronai making traffic along the trunk road flow freely once again enabling access for more than 40,000 people from southern Namatanai who depend on the highway.