KOROBA - This year’s Papua New Guinean election was the worst in our history. There were so many terrible incidents, especially the killing of police officers performing their duties.
More than 40 deaths were reported in the Highlands since June and the actual death toll is likely to be much more.
Two police officers were killed in Enga Province and another two killed recently in the Southern Highlands, officers from Koroba in Hela Province who were the victims of disputes over ballot boxes for the regional seat.
The election created frustration and confusion and was brought to a standstill by fighting between supporters of rivals Joseph Kobol and William Powi. One police officer was the target for declaring William Powi as Southern Highlands Governor wen the counting was finished.
This was a great lost to the eight tribes of Koroba-Lake Kopiago and the rest of Hela as these men were our assets who put their hands up to protect the well-being of our newly established province.
The election in Hela Province itself was peaceful and successful – a great tribute to our police.
So far, we have not received a word from the Southern Highlands losing candidate Joseph Kobol, Pastor Bernard, Southern Highlands Governor William Powi or Prime Minister Peter O’Neill for the brutal murder of the two police officers.
The people of Hela have waited for these leaders to come forward to tell us the reason why those innocent lives were lost and why there was much other suffering.
Joseph Kobol recently told The National newspaper that he and another 24 losing general election candidates in the Southern Highlands had accepted compensation demands from the relatives of the two Hela police officers killed in Mendi near the Anga river road.
As far as I know, we never requested through our leaders to ask losing candidates from SHP to assist us with the repatriation and funeral expanses of our two police officers.
People behind the killing have been identified and given demands. They need to come clean on the demands and accept the responsibilities they created so there will be lasting peace between the two provinces.
For years, we Hela people have been silent labourers to Southern Highlanders. They rely heavily on our resources and control everything that we own and yet they continuously block roads, harass us and raped our women.
This has gone on for ages and we are sick and tired of it.
If only we have another road link to Enga (Hela-Enga highway), Western (Hela-Western highway), Sepik (Hela-Sepik highway) or Gulf (Agiru highway) it would minimise the attacks by Southern Highlanders along the Highlands Highway, our lifeline.
Hela is the location of the multi-billion PNG LNG project and it needs more than one road link to other provinces.
The PNG government should consider this as a matter of urgency and come up with a long term solution in order to prevent further bloodshed and chaos.