Quake relief payment questioned

Highlands

CONTRACTORS involved in the Southern Highlands earthquake relief work are not happy with the emergency controller’s office for allocating only K1 million out of their estimated K4 million bill.
The disgruntled service providers fronted the provincial disaster command centre in Mendi on Friday demanding to know why they were being underpaid.
Southern Highlands disaster coordinator Peter Wari was not aware of the K1 million funding.
Wari told The National that when the province was moving into the the reconstruction phase, he should be made aware and the service providers should be properly paid.
“They will be the ones to continue to provide the services in the future. Now most of them are underpaid while others missed out and the provincial disaster office is getting the blame,” Wari said.
“I believe the service providers were also misled as no proper consultation were done prior to the payment. The K1 million is the first funding received since the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck the highlands provinces.”
Emergency controller Dr Bill Hamblin said some of the service providers were contracted prior to the emergency, some were contracted after emergency not through his office but through the provincial disaster office and others who do not have the authority to actually commit those funds.
“I have released some funds to the provincial governments earlier to pay off some of those outstanding bills. But there are some invoices which we are inquiring,” he said.
“I have got invoices and everyone that is legitimate, I have paid them. I want invoices to come to my office progressively and not for March to be getting them in June.”
A’aron Dou, a casual supervisor of one of the four warehouse that stored the relief supplies which were broken into during the recent troubles in Mendi town, said that although he and his boys were also affected by the disaster, they stood with the disaster coordination team to help others.
“The release of only K1 million is a slap on the face,” he said.
“We should be appreciated for the services provided for the past four months. Our food gardens, homes and properties were destroyed too just like the others but we provided a vital service that be appreciated by paying them their full bills.”

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