By REBECCA KUKU
PEOPLE in Southern Highlands have largely been working together in rebuilding their lives and homes and trying to restore some normalcy in their communities since last year’s earthquake, says provincial police commander Gideon Kauke.
He has seen more unity, less tribal fights, a change in attitude towards life and a trend to work together.
Today is the first anniversary of the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that devastated the Highlands area, particularly Hela, Southern Highlands and parts of Western and Enga.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill told Parliament a few weeks after the quake that the death toll would probably be never known, although he had estimated that at least 160 people had perished
Kauke said people in Southern Highlands and Hela were simply shocked, traumatised and scared.
“Relief and aid came in from everywhere, but it wasn’t just enough for everyone. Medicine supplies were not enough, there were just too many people in need, especially those in the rural areas who didn’t have road connections. Food, water and medicines were flown to them but it wasn’t enough for everyone,” he said.
Kauke said criminal activities stopped for a while as everyone was affected and people were scared another big earthquake was about to strike.
“It’s been one year since then and as the PPC of the province, I believe the earthquake has changed many mindsets. There’s been less tribal fights, unlike before as people are working together to rebuild their lives, homes and societies,” he said.
Kauke thanked the joint security operation for providing security at that time and the non-governmental organisations and churches for their never-ending support.
“Don’t trust what you hear, Southern Highlands is not like what you hear on the radio or read in the newspapers. Southern Highlands lost a lot during the earthquake and they have changed for the better. People are now rebuilding their lives but I know that the happening of that fateful morning when the earthquake struck will always linger in the people’s heart.”
By REBECCA KUKU