Villagers block parts of Gembogl road

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday 10th January 2012

MORE than 60,000 people in Gembogl, upper Chimbu, have been cut off after frustrated Simbaiku landowners felled trees and dug up parts of the Kundiawa-Gembogl road.
The landowners said they were frustrated about the non-payment of the K6.8 million released by the government as compensation for the use of their water source at Urr which supplies Kundiawa town.
The Simbaiku tribe took the government to court over the use of their water source and was awarded K6.8 million.
But they claimed that principal plaintiff John Kua had access to the money but had not distributed it to the people of the tribes who were part of the court case.
To show their frustration, they felled trees and dug up sections of the road from Yuai to Sikawake – a stretch of 3km.
Traffic movements between Kundiawa town and Gembogl came to a standstill, forcing the people of Gembogl to walk through the blockade.
The people had to walk more than 3km carrying their goods and garden produce to sell in Kundiawa.
Provincial executive council member John Sande from Gembogl said the innocent people were being penalised for nothing.
He called on the Simbaiku tribesmen not to block the road because it was an issue between them and the government – and the people of Gembogl had nothing to do with it.
Sande urged authorities to intervene and reopen the road for the people of Gembogl.
The Simbaiku clansmen want government authorities, especially police, to apprehend Kua and bring him to them to distribute the money.
“We want Kua to come to Kundiawa with the money and give it to us,” a frustrated member of the tribe, who refused to be named, said.
The roadblock remains, with more trees felled across the road and landowners saying it would be cleared only after the government steps in.