JACOB POK PASO
A GROUP of police and National Capital District Commission officials yesterday raided an illegal market place near the north Waigani traffic lights, destroying second-hand houses and betelnut tables of vendors at the market.
The eviction exercise happened in the early hours of yesterday when truckloads of police personnel and NCD workers went to the makeshift market place, near the Kone Tigers rugby league club ground, chased away the sellers and cleared the area.
Witnesses said heavily-armed policemen chased the sellers away without providing any explanation as to why they carried out the eviction.
However, it is understood that the vendors had been given notice by the NCDC to vacate the land which they were occupying illegally since they were evicted from Boroko market last year.
Some of the affected victims waited for the NCD officials to give them reasons for the eviction and relocate them.
Joyce Bernard, Janet Mandai and Janet Pea alleged that their second-hand houses that were built near the market to sell second-hand clothing where allegedly set on fire by the policemen.
They alleged that the police also brought kerosene containers and set fire to all the tables that vendors used to sell their goods.
Mrs Mandai, a mother from Enga province, said police and the NCD physical planning board notified them on Tuesday to evict the place.
However, she said most of the sellers went to the governor’s office to explain their grievance and a secretary there said no eviction would be carried out.
She alleged that the office told them that authorities will only chase the betel nut sellers and not the others but instead “they chased us all”.
“We unemployed mothers heavily rely on marketing to maintain the daily living of our families and we don’t know why we are being chased like criminals from one place to another,” a frustrated Mrs Mandai said.
She said life in the city was very tough and they depended heavily on what they could get from selling second-hand clothes, betelnut, smokes, drinks and fast food.
“We are the ones who gave the mandated to the leaders and we expect them to look after us and not to chase us around as if we are aliens from another planet,” she said.
She said this was the second time the police and NCD evicted them and they would like to appeal to NCD Governor Powes Parkop to relocate them to a proper place immediately as they don’t have any other means for survival.
The women said they would gather today at the centre of the new market at Waigani (which is still under construction) to air their concern to the appropriate authorities.