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Road blocks cut fuel supply to capital

Wednesday 28 January 2015 | Published in Regional


PORT MORESBY – Angry Hanuabadan villagers are still maintaining roadblocks following Friday’s shooting of two men as the result of a betelnut raid by police.

The village cuts the highway to the west of Port Moresby blocking access to fuel depots and the PNG LNG plant site.

Reports say the roadblocks have caused some service stations to run out of fuel and some transport companies are said to have stopped work.

PNG Power chief executive officer John Tangit said that because of this, diesel power stations at Hanjung, Kanudi and Moitaka have been shut down due to lack of fuel supply necessitating sporadic power blackouts. He warned if the standoff continued it would force longer blackouts.

PNG Loop reports that petrol stations in Port Moresby are running dry as the supplies of fuel are unable to get through the city.

Drivers are desperately looking for the last supplies of fuel as many service stations in the city have used up all their supplies.

Tankers are being prevented from loading at a fuel depot at Napanapa because of the road blockades mounted by people of Hanuabada who are upset at the deaths of two of their people during the clash with police.

The government says will not hesitate to use emergency powers to remove the roadblocks to restore power and normalcy to the city.

Public Enterprises and State Investment Minister Ben Micah said he and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill both agreed that it was a sensitive issue and asked the Hanuabada leaders, who were peaceful people to allow common sense and good will to prevail.

He called on Motu Koitabu leaders to differentiate between a protest about police brutality and a threat to the electricity and fuel supply to the nation’s capital.

“I will not hesitate to use the electricity state of emergency powers to open up the road. I hope we don’t come down to that,” Micah reiterated.

Micah has directed State of Emeregency controller Tom Ur to open up talks with the Hanuabada and Tatana village leaders to remove the roadblocks and allow the flow of fuel tankers and general traffic.

“I will not allow power to be sabotaged by any group of people. I have spoken to the prime minister and he is very concerned about the power and fuel supplies into the city.

“As a minister and government, we will not allow power and fuel supplies to be sabotaged over a separate issue on police brutality.”

“I sympathise with the families of those killed and also condemned the actions by police but I appeal to leaders not to cause unnecessary obstacles.”

Minister Micah said a state of emergency is in place and he does not want to be forced to use emergency powers over a very sensitive issue.

PNG Loop reports that a planned peaceful protest march by Hanuabada villagers is scheduled for Thursday.

A fight nearly erupted at Hanuabada Village earlier after Motu Koitabu Assembly Chairman Miria Ikupu, spoke to villagers as they planned the march.

The Motu Koitabu Interim Assembly has powers and rights to legislate in ten villages and associated customary held land within the NCD.

Making his first appearance before his people and the media since the incident on Friday, Ikupu was heckled and interrupted by angry locals, unhappy with some resolutions of the Motu Koitabu Assembly.

This began a confrontation between family and supporters of Ikupu against other villagers almost erupting in a fight.

The resolutions which stirred anger among the locals was for the buai market in the village to remain closed, for the road blocks to be opened and that the protest march would not go ahead as planned for Thursday.

Mahuru Toka, brother of late Toka Gaudi, one of the men killed in the police raid, said that since the killings, Ikupu has not gone to see the family or had he spoken to them.

A separate gathering was held by villagers and the consensus was clear – they wanted the road blocks to remain.

PNG Loop has yet to confirm with police if the protest from Hanuabada to the police headquarters at Konedobu has been approved.

Chief Secretary to Government, Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc has joined the Motu-Koitabu people in strongly condemning the recent alleged shooting and killing at Hanuabada village last week.

And he is convening an immediate session of the Special National Security Advisory Council meeting to discuss and address “continued unaccepted police behaviour in the country”.

Sir Manasupe said it was becoming a common trend by “certain unruly personne” of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary to overlook Constabulary Standing Orders while executing their duties.

“This is a concern that has been raised time and time again, not only by the people of Hanuabada but throughout the country,” Sir Manasupe said.

“They continue to wantonly and without observing their police standing order, continue to use firearms with live ammunition at wanton will.

“It is now up to the police hierarchy, especially the Police Commissioner, to address this continued unruly and unethical behaviour that are in breach of the constabulary standing orders, for the good of the people and the country.”

Sir Manasupe said that he would be convening a Special National Security Advisory Council meeting immediately to discuss and address continued unaccepted police behaviour in the country.

“The police hierarchy must seriously look into the Hanuabada matter as well as other related killings around the country,” Sir Manasupe added.

Sir Manasupe also extended his condolences to the families of the two men killed, Nicholas Rarua and Toka Gaudi and also the people of Hanuabada.

He said the Department of Prime Minister and National Executive Council is willing to assist the committee set up by the people of Hanuabada to address the issue, through legal aid to ensure justice is served and there is closure for the families and everyone affected by the shootings.