IT is the first time that a group of landowners from Kerene village in Ialibu, SHP, have blocked the Highlands Highway for a few days and caused complete chaos for the travelling public.
It is very sad because these people are otherwise very friendly and peace-loving by nature.
I commend Minister for Works, Transport and Public Service Peter O’Neill for meeting the villagers and addressing their concerns and subsequently removing the road block.
Blocking a premier national highway is criminal in nature and is punishable by law.
We all law abiding people of Ialibu do not condone such behaviour, which resulted in innocent people and businesses becoming victims.
Nobody should be allowed to destroy or block off public roads.
These roads are for the use and benefit of all people and individuals or groups who destroy or block public roads and highways must be punished harshly by law.
Having said this, I am also seriously concerned as an educated Ialibuan because I begin to see the gap between Waigani and Ialibu becoming wider and wider each year.
The fact is that Ialibu epitomises the true but sad story of many rural districts of PNG.
Waigani has lost its focus with the majority of rural PNG.
Waigani is, unfortunately, not in touch with the rural people of PNG.
People are demanding compensation for any improvements almost throughout the entire corridor of the strategic Highlands Highway because they think that is the only opportunity that will see the “hand of their Government”.
It is indeed very sad for PNG.
Unless Waigani is in touch with the rest of PNG, and that our ministers stop handing out hundreds of millions to a few individuals and groups in the name of “projects”, some people in society will not respect authority and all hell will break loose one day.
People will even not respect the Government, senior ministers and leaders.
We have already seen this in Tari and Mt Hagen last month where the public physically attacked senior State ministers.
I call upon the National Government to seriously address white-collar crime in Waigani and in the provincial headquarters.
PNG is flush with cash but corruption is crippling the nation, hence thwarting real economic growth.
The Government must address corruption in order to save money in the system so it channels adequate resources to all the rural districts of PNG in order to build up their capacity and deliver services.
Unless this is done, the rural PNG will become disconnected with Waigani and the people will unleash their anger on the leaders and public infrastructure like highways.
I do not think my provincial government is connected with the people too.
It must spend sufficient time in Mendi and address the core issues affecting growth in the rural districts of this giant province that will host the PNG LNG project very soon.
It’s a pity that the only province in PNG that hosts all the current producing oil and gas fields in the country lies in tatters.