Mi tingting planti long Sepik.

November 1, 2011 at 1:04 am (Commentary, Papua New Guinea, Wewak)


Bel bilong mi i tok.

On the 16th September,2010,  at the official opening of the Wewak Sports Stadium, the then Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare  informed the assembled crowd at Prince Charles Oval that in his 42 years in politics he had always been fair in sharing government finances with the whole country and not just  exclusively supporting his own East Sepik Electorate – “Olsem lida bilong kantri, mi mas lukautim olgeta.” As leader of the country I must look after everyone. His even handedness, he implied, had had costs for his own electorate, but as well as the support for the stadium his government was supporting many other developments in the East Sepik: Wewak market and jetty projects, a new hospital, cultural centre and museum with other infrastructure developments in the pipeline.

Since 2006 I’ve made regular visits to the East Sepik and I must admit I’ve been increasingly less and less impressed with what I see. The Wewak Sports Stadium, largely financed by the Chinese Government, is in the general opinion of most people a white elephant. “Em i wanem samting? Nau olgeta rot,skul na ples nogut – helpim mi long dispel.” What is this (stadium)? Our roads, schools and place are no good – help us by improving these.

There has been a lot of talk about the relocation of the Boram General Hospital particularly since some damage by tidal flooding caused by the earthquake in Japan in January of this year. Suggestions have been made to move the hospital inland, a move that many find highly questionable, not just on the logistics and suitability levels, but because of more sinister suspicions that there are those who are anxious to get their hands on the vacated prime real estate. Whatever, the present state of the hospital is appalling – pot holes in the road entrance, filthy contaminated drains, the refuse of betelnut chewing here and there, buildings in a total state of disrepair, no x-ray machine in working order. One could go on and on.

In this sorry story I must say I was impressed with the new market and associated facilities, a new police station and ice-making equipment jointly financed by the Japanese and PNG governments. But if one was to take a short walk beyond the market and police station in the direction of the mangroves one comes to what could be euphemistically called the municipal rubbish disposal dump – an accumulation of rubbish, houses, chickens, dogs, people and rats, mosquitoes and other vermin. Right on the edge of all this there is a little primary school – Mongiol school. All of this would be no more than 10-minutes walk from the centre of town and the former Prime Minister’s house.

The simple provision of rubbish collection and disposal would do much to improve the general health and wellbeing of the people of Wewak.

On my recent visit I didn’t go to Angoram, but the reports that I had from my many friends there don’t speak well of the state of affairs in this town.

The Sepik people deserve must better.


1 Comment

  1. Antony Ruhan said,

    I hope that your article gets wider circulation in PNG, for what that’s worth. In the 70s I remember the slums on the hills in Port Moresby. The same problems of waste disposal and sanitation and lack of available medical care existed then.

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