The National, Tuesday, May 10, 2011
By JAYNE SAFIHAO
STUDENTS from three institutions in Madang yesterday petitioned provincial government authorities to close the Gav Stoa Sepik settlement outside Divine Word University.
They said repeated harassment and threats left them no alternative but to issue a 14-day ultimatum to move settlers out.
As early as 7.30am, more than 300 students from DWU, the Maritime College and Madang Technical College marched carrying placards from the Maritime College gates through Nabasa, up the main road towards the headquarters shouting “Fed up of harassment, Rausim ol, eviction tasol eviction”. (Remove them, eviction only, want eviction).
The students and staff, including Maritime principal Richard Coleman, fronted up at the provincial headquarters shouting and calling for the “Gapstorians” removal.
Provincial administrator Ben Lange and deputy governor Bob Wati addressed the protesters.
Maritime representative Gatestone Kathimooley said the protest march was in response to an incident last Sunday morning where two male students and a 60-year-old carpenter were attacked by youths from Gav Stoa.
He said they had been threatened with bush knives and ordered to hand over money and mobile phones.
The Madang government was given 14 days to respond.
Kathimooley said if nothing was done the matter could become economically unviable for Madang if the Maritime union stepped in to stop ships calling into Madang.
Coleman later said that would be “an extreme measure taken” if needed.
Former governor James Yali, who championed eviction in 2005, said that the land the Gav Stoa settlers were squatting on was Maritime College property and state land and they had to be evicted.
Wati said it was a major provincial issue and all six MPs representing and regional MP must address it “once and for all” as the provincial administration had limited funding for such a major eviction exercise.
Lange said they would get to the students within 14 days.