By GABRIEL FITO
DISGRUNTLED Yarapos landowners have agreed with the provincial administration for an independent investigation into their claims for compensation for their polluted river.
As such, classes at the all girls Mercy Secondary School in East Sepik province will not be disrupted when the school year begins next Monday.
The landowners had threatened to close down the school, claiming the school’s overflowing sewerage system had polluted their river.
The landowners met deputy provincial administrator technical services, Benjamin Warakai, the school’s management and heads of education, health and lands departments yesterday where they withdrew their threat to shut down the school.
The landowners claimed the pollution had affected the people who rely on the water for washing, cooking and drinking.
They claimed that marine life and its eco system had also been destroyed by the high level of pollution caused by the school since its establishment in 1966.
The landowners’ spokesman, Caspar Yake, told the meeting that normal classes would be allowed to resume on Monday but the provincial administration, through its relevant agencies, must probe their claims immediately.
“Our people are suffering and this matter cannot be prolonged,” he said.
They also demanded the return of 20ha of customary land which the school occupied.
The provincial lands adviser, who was at the meeting, said he was aware of the extension of the school boundary but had no knowledge of whether or not it was done legally.
He said he would investigate and provide a full report when they meet again on Friday.
Mr Warakai said while the concerns raised by the landowners were genuine, the provincial government needed an independent investigation to try and resolve the dispute.
He said the provincial health adviser, Albert Bunat, and his inspectors would be taking water samples for testing and file a report for the administration to act upon.
The provincial administration has also assured the landowners that water tanks would be provided to relieve the villagers.