PNG disaster response questioned as provinces flood
The disaster reponse from the Papua New Guinea government has come under further scrutiny after another province was struck by the worst flooding in 20 years.
The disaster response from the Papua New Guinea government has come under further scrutiny after another province was struck by the worst flooding in 20 years.
Last week the National Disaster Office asked the government for more than three million US dollars to respond to floods that had affected about 100,000 people as the Opposition accused the government of being slack and deficient.
Now the West New Britain Governor Sansindran Muthuvel has appealed to the government for assistance and called for a state of emergency to be called.
He spoke to Koro Vaka'uta.
SANSINDRAN MUTHUVEL: In the last three days, there was a record of almost 2.5 metres of rain, which is the highest actually, this rain started on Friday and it's still continuing. We almost lost two of our major bridges, in fact right now, the road link between Kimbe and Bialla is totally cut off, and a lot of people went from Kimbe and were stranded. The damages are quite widespread, and we are facing some extreme situations where we really need the national government's intervention, right now as we speak, the total damage, cost by various collapse of infrastructure into millions, according to the Department of Works manager, it's almost over 20 million kina, that's not including the bridge that disconnected Kimbe and Bialla. As we speak, the rain is still continuing, if you put a bucket outside, in a few seconds the bucket it will be full of water.
KORO VAKA'UTA: Have you had any response from the NEC with some sort of assistance or declaration?
SM: Our provisional disaster committee, they recommended to the national government to ask them to declare a provisional state of emergency so they can attend to the damage, but they said please go ahead and use whatever the local companies to go ahead and do the work, but the problem is that there was no company really willing to come forward to go and do this work as there are a lot of payments they have done on all these things. We are still yet to get any support from the national government whether it's from the national disaster agency, or our Department of Works. There's nothing tangible done and we are really in a very frustrating situation.
KV: There has been criticism of the disaster response from the Opposition leader, do you think that the government needs to be a bit more proactive when it comes to dealing with disasters across the country?
SM: Most of New Guinea island provinces are on the ring of fire, where we get constant earthquakes, and in February and March, we are threatened by heavy rain. We definitely need responsive plan throughout the country, but considering the geography in Papua New Guinea, it's extremely challenging in responding to disaster needs in the country. I definitely agree we need to be a bit more proactive, rather than just trying to respond because this rain is not something new for New Britain, the same thing happened last year, and also in 2013 it was really bad, but this current situation is the worst. In the last 20 years, irrespective of what the disaster is, we carry out quick fix methods such as temporary bridges, but we don't do any fix any permanent infrastructure, and a year passes, and another March comes around and we have the same problem.
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