National disaster response lacking

Letters, Normal

The National, Monday 06th Febuary 2012

TUESDAY, Jan 24, will be remembered for those who lost loved ones to the calamities of nature in Southern Highlands but one wonders whether it was natural or artificial.
The landowner leaders were earnestly seeking answers in Port Moresby and Mendi.
With the national rescue effort slowly forthcoming in the ensuing days, back in Port Moresby the political stage was carefully prepared for what was to become PNG’s first ever failed military takeover on Jan 26.
Things happened so fast in the intervening days that less attention was directed to serving humane needs, and more on political control which if left to itself under the normal democratic circumstances would not require intervention, politics or military.
While the people of Southern Highlands were crying, many in Port Moresby were confused about whether to cry too, or flee for their lives for fear of a military reprisal.
Thankfully enough, order was restored with many city residents breathing a sigh of relief after the eight-hour military attempt was quashed.
In light of this, two questions came to mind:
1) Has the national government done enough to prepare to deal with multiple shocks, both domestic and external which may occur abruptly and simultaneously?
2) What contingency plans are there to deal with all manner of disasters – from the power struggle beneath the political slopes of Waigani, to the flood waters of Bulolo, to the remote shaky mountains of the Helas?
Let us not forget the plight of the Manam Islanders in Madang and the escalation of ethnic tensions in major urban centres.
These are some examples of domestic pressures that have already proven the government’s inability to handle through its lacklustre performance.

Teddy Winn,
Port Moresby