The National, Wednesday 29th August, 2012
By YVONNE HAIP
THREE people have died, one of them a woman in labour, in Southern Highlands’ Erave, after difficulties in getting urgent medical help, a community leader in the district said.
Reports said because of post-election problems, schools were on the verge of shutting down, while health facilities had run out of medical supplies.
In addition, prices of store goods have soared and PMVs had stopped for almost a month after Kagua Erave parliamentarian James Lagea was re-elected.
It was alleged that supporters of losing candidates in Kagua blocked off sections of the roads there, preventing the Erave people from passing through.
The road block has resulted in more than 15,000 people being deprived of basic goods and services.
Since Lagea’s declaration, supporters of losing candidates from Kagua do not want people in Erave accessing goods and services and have been setting up roadblocks.
Lagea is from Kagua.
Anderson Awaisa, a peace mediator in the district, said the supporters were armed and had slashed people with bush knives, raped women, injured many others and some were stripped and forced to walk home naked.
He said an Erave High School truck loaded with school supplies had been ordered to turn back by the supporters although they were with police escort.
Awaisa was stranded in Mt Hagen, Western Highlands, because of this road block.
He claimed others were facing similar difficulties while those needing medical treatment were “suffering” in the villages as they were prevented from benefiting from government services.
“The only means of transportation is by air and the people cleaned the overgrown Erave airstrip to allow light aircraft into the area so that they could travel out of the district,” he said.
“Movement is now a costly exercise due to the rising airfares and the once K50 ride from Mt Hagen to Erave is now K200, with people travelling to Sembiriki and later daring a day’s walk to Erave.”
Awaisa is calling on Lagea and police to intervene and allow the Erave people to have easy access to goods and services.
Attempts to confirm his claims with the provincial police commander have been unsuccessful, while highlands divisional commander Chief Supt Teddy Tei said he had not received any such reports.