Posts Categorized: Issues

Homebrew and marijuana use impacting education

By Maryanne Hanette

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In Bougainville, especially North specifically in the Haku constituency, consumption of homebrew and marijuana is at high rate and is creating negative outcomes for the local community

This is a serious topic of discussion today for the people of this area because of the way youths and school age youths are behaving towards the society today.

There has been an upsurge of youth consumption of drugs by 50% compared to previous years.

This issue has been an on-going issue. It has led to aggressive behaviours by youths in the communities and students’ unacceptable practices in the constituency, including fighting among students, rape cases and murder.

For the school age youths of this area it has affected their academic performance. Grades have dropped to a very low level in school as a result of the high rate of absenteeism in class.

Mr Martin Takali, Principal at Hutjena Seconday School, explained that each year two to three students are expelled from school and sent home.

“Majority of the students consuming marijuana at Hutjena Secondary are students from Haku”, said Mr Takali.

Few students in this area further their education at tertiary institutions, with many exiting after grade 10 or 12.

Though there is a good number of the population are well educated there is still many of them roaming around in the village doing nothing.

Youths and students of this area take part in homebrew and marijuana consumption because no one goes there to educate them at a high standard and to their level about drug and its impacts

Many of them have their own reasons as to why they are consuming homebrew and marijuana, but the responsibility lies within the parents and the elders or chiefs in the village.

If the environment is full of these types of activities, like homebrew produced right in the village and selling of marijuana, then students or youths will never say no in consuming drugs because it is right in front of their eyes.

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New research investigates service delivery to the atolls

By Timothy Poroda

The need for services delivery to the Atolls communities of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville is one area where many tertiary students, such as those at Divine University, see as their potential site for research.

There are many factors that are contributing to the impediment of services to the area, including its remoteness.

As an undergraduate researcher I was triggered by the service delivery issue in the Atolls as the basis to conduct my final year research paper because of the lack of transport or effective transport system into the area.

The research site of my study is to be conducted on one of the islands but due to some limitations the research data collection will be conducted in Buka urban area where most of the Tasman Islanders now live.

The research will have two-way response, which means there are two samples or study populations, and will be getting information from Tasman Islanders and government departments or offices.

I hope to get better feedback from the two samples as trial interview was conducted early this year which many of the participants both from each sampling frames responded positively to the questions asked.

Furthermore, I will mainly look at the education and health sector which is my prime purpose to conduct the research there on how the dissemination of the services are provided to these respective sectors by the authority responsible.

The research a requirement to complete my undergraduate studies and will be presented at the end of second semester this year to contribute to the existing literature of knowledge.

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Excessive alcohol consumption puts generation at risk

By Anastasia Hagai

There are concerns that the over consumption of beer and homebrew has become an everyday activity in Bougainville, beyond the safe use for relaxation and socialising.

Many people, both males and females of different age groups, consume alcohol almost every day and this has become a concern to the local families, neighbours and chiefs of villages.

These uncontrolled drunks tend to cause problems, not only for their families, but also for local communities where property is damaged and individuals are abused physically and psychologically.

“It is an eye sore and a saddening site to see,” said one commuter in the Northern region.

“These individuals aren’t aware of the dangers and the consequences of this bad habit in the long run.”

These binge alcohol consumers have a habit of ignoring the issues that arise due to this over consumption. From the social perspective it affects the livelihood of the family and local villagers and for the health side it can lead to vision complications and reduced neurological functions of the brain.

Locals have also mentioned the lack of discipline enforced during the upbringing of this current generation and the loss and value of customs and traditions which has resulted in Bougainvilleans turning a blind eye towards this worsening issue within the communities.

On the same note, the over consumption of alcohol of this vast population has also being encouraged with the easy access of these substances within the area itself.

The continuation of effective awareness and enforcement of the law is crucial, as the future of Bougainville depends upon these intelligent minds who are throwing their lives away when they can be doing something productive for themselves and their families as well as their communities, by getting educated in the primary, secondary and vocational schools.

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Mine pit drainage threatens Panguna hamlet

By Leonard Fong Roka

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A family hamlet of Makosi, in the Upper Tailings area of the Panguna District, is under threat from water erosion and the residents have requested to move to a new location in the near future.

The family thinks the government should step in to assist in slowing down the rate of erosion generated by the water that originates from the abandoned Panguna Mine pit.

The family’s matriarch, Therese Pokamari, said their homestead was founded in 2004 by her eldest son, but now she sees no future if the erosion caused by the tunnel waterway washes away their houses, which had been built on the sedimentation and gravel from the Panguna mine.

“Our homes are what we value most as Bougainvilleans,” Mrs Pokamari said.

“If Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) was still operating I can go and tell them to fix this threat for my family.

“But they are gone, so we now have the government to look into issues affecting us.

“When BCL was operating, we all know, it maintained some order of the installations it had.

“But having left without properly closing down the mine we the Panguna people now face the problems.”

The volume of water leaving the Panguna Mine pit that is some 500 metres deep and 1 kilometer wide is large. It is sucked vertically down two or more pipe systems and reaches the drainage tunnel some hundred metres underground. From there the water—with additions from the many subterranean water systems—flows south and then west for 6 kilometres and comes out at the Makosi land where Pokamari dwells with her family.

“Makosi was our family’s only flat land in this mountainous Panguna District,” Pokamari admitted,

“Bougainville’s first president, the late Joseph Kabui – who is my uncle, played and gardened here as a child before the Panguna Mine was created.

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“With the mine prematurely shut in 1990, my family came back to build homes here,” Pokamari continued, “in fact, the local level government office, a community’s aid post and a police post are all housed here on the Makosi land.”

“More developments are coming on this land, but their future is at stake with the threat posed by this waterway.

The Makosi land is the only massive flat area in the entire Tumpusiong Valley or the Upper Tailings area accessible by vehicles, thus local government authorities have chosen to settle there to serve the locals.

The family also established a kindergarten on their hamlet servicing the Upper Tailings area with now over 100 students that feeds into primary schools at Dapera, Darenai, Oune, and Sipatako.

“Makosi land was divided between my mother and her two other sisters,” Pokamari revealed.

“Makosi 1, which is higher in elevation, went to my two aunties and Makosi 2, which is lower in elevation, came to my mother and that is where I am.

“So Makosi 2 is now subjected to erosion since the flowing water body is attracted to the bank that is lowest.”

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Flooding wreaks havoc in Central Bougainville

By Ishmael Palipal

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A small village at Aita in Wakunai, near the Aita River, was reported to have nearly been washed downriver in the early hours of Wednesday 27 July, following a long, heavy rain through the night.

People have reported that pots, plates, buckets, tanks and other objects without a firm foundation were washed away. A tank and some other items that the flood channeled through the feeder road over to the main road was saved by onlookers and placed on the safe ground.

Travelling in the Central Bougainville, especially in the Wakunai area, can be risky with heavy winds blowing down coconut palms and trees into the road. This area of Bougainville is also full of big, fast running rivers from the nearby mountains.

The heavy rains have resulted in flooding rivers that have overflowed into the roads. It is risky for public to travel both on the main roads or through feeder roads where rivers are close by.

So far there are no reports of any casualties or accidents from the affected areas by the heavy rain or wind or flooding.

The travelling public, drivers and passengers should take precautions as the heavy wind, rain and flooding can lead to accidents. Watch out for falling trees or palm trees and other falling things that might cause accidents.

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Atolls face shortage of food supplies

By Timothy Poroda


The last shipment of food supplies to the Atoll District of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville was made in early January and the food which was delivered that month is now decreasing to an unsteady ration.

The Atolls are deeply relying on the Autonomous Bougainville Government for relief supplies to the island due to climate change many of the islands are now facing the consequences of this global issue. They the growth of food has been unsustainable for some years.

Recently, the continuous rain has caused some of the islands to experienced shortage of food to feed their family and community. An elderly islander as according to the daily newspaper he said their only source of food, a variety of taro, is too being destroyed which is in their local language they called it Kanokano.

The islanders are largely relying on basic store goods and if supplies haven’t reached them then they will resort to dry coconut, fish, Kanokano (swamp taro) and this has been their staple food. If there’s ship going there is food supplies which their diet will then change a bit.

The government assists the district due to its current status as one of the vulnerable communities in the region.

Autonomous Bougainville Government through its responsible authorities are working together to assist situations and provide the needs for the islanders. Such needs provide are basically health, education and most importantly the food supplies. Therefore tons of kilogram of bale rice are becoming the staple food for the entire Atolls district.

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Youths to be rehabilitated at Marbiri centre

By Gideon Davika

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Construction of a new detention centre for juvenile offenders is underway at Mabiri, Central Bougainville, and will be the required works will be completed by two contractors.

793-marbiri-juvenile-centreFree Line, a construction company that is owned by Bougainvillian engineers, has the contract to build the main jail and the mess. The jail contains two block cells, shower and toilet facilities and two open space rooms to accommodate underage youths in the centre.

The mess is being constructed close to the jail and includes a kitchen and a dining area for eating.

Building of staff houses within the vicinity was carried out by West Asikopan construction. The have already been completed and will accommodate the warders and those who will be facilitating activities at the centre.

The juvenile centre will cater and provide care for young people who commit offences, as they cannot be put kept in an adult facility.

793-juvenile-centreWhile serving in the juvenile centre they will provided with education and spiritual services such as individual case management and specialised counselling. They will also be given the opportunity to learn vocational and life skills.

The establishment of a regional juvenile centre is a positive step to house underage youths who are offenders or wrong doers in the communities. The time they spend in the centre will give them an opportunity be rehabilitated and come out with bright ideas and a good personality which will give joy to their parents as well the communities which they come from.

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Darenai Primary School suspended amid safety concerns

By Leonard Fong Roka

Leonard Fong Roka at the Darenai site Leonard Fong Roka at the Darenai site

The principal of Darenai Primary School, Mr Justin Roka, has ordered his school to suspend classes following an armed standoff in the Tumpusiong Valley of Panguna District on 26 February.

“Such incidents where there is the use of firearms on the doorstep of a school are real seriously issues under the education policies,” Mr. Roka said in a community meeting over the incident.

“This school can be shut down just for the safety of your children or we as the leaders of the school could be hold responsible.

“Thus I have no other alternative but to suspend classes till you community members, Jaba Resources Limited and leaders resolve this issue once and for all.”

It is believed the clash was related to a disagreement over cement and gravel production project taking place in the area.

About two months after the disagreement over compensation for the termination of employment, a man mobilised band relatives, and armed with two high-power rifles, they raided the project site taking items they wanted and destroy any other property, vehicles and equipment.

The raiders then fled but their vehicle became stuck in the sedimentation at which point security guards were able to catch up to them. The raiders broke company, some escaped while others were captured and sent to Arawa Heath Centre for medical treatment.

“The conflict is still going on,” Mr. Roka said, “the [project partners] and their local employees have been banned from entering Arawa Town.”

Concerned parents of students have voiced that the incident was a risk to the school, staff and students. Thus as of the 29 February the classes were suspended and staff sent home.

The principal and the school board of management are now busy going in between the warring groups to try to get them to sign a guarantee letter that despite their conflict they will not be of any harm to the school, the staff and the students.

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Fear of Kavarong overflow builds

By Leonard Fong Roka

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Gold panning activities upstream and frequent landslides are now paving the way for a catastrophe in the Tumpusiong Valley because of an accumulation materials that block the Kavarong River levee that runs through the deserted Panguna Mine site.

Since the mine operation ceased in 1989 there has been no maintenance to the levee and over the years minor landslides, that have occurred both away from the mine upstream the Kavarong River and at the concentrator area, brought sedimentation down to the levee, leaving it shallower than ever before.

Many complain now that the Tumpusiong area is too focused on the alluvial gold miners up the mine’s former Karona Township, where activity began about 2005 and is still continues today.

“The [alluvial] gold mining activities at Karona are creating many problems,” some road users said on a PMV to Arawa.

“They will destroy once and for all the Port-Mine Access Road near where they work at the former Camp 10 compound.

“Only BCL had this road for us. The government cannot finance such a road and we, the Tumpusiong people with the Nagovisi and the Siwai will suffer,” the passenger said.

“Then there is the problem for us the Tumpusiong people with the levee where now the Kavarong is overflowing and sinking into the gravel land of the mine.

“These gold miners whilst running after money forget that their activities bring heavy sedimentation downstream to the levee.”

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Karona is not the only place with alluvial gold mining activity occurring. Further upstream on the Kavarong River people are digging along the river itself and there are now about 13 mining camps dotted on the jungles of the Crown Prince Range that have their waste reaching Kavarong.

Much of this waste has slowly made its way to the former mining township of Panguna and built up on the levee between the pit-access tunnels and the new Dapera resettlement village, a distance of about two kilometres.

The reason for this stoppage is that around the year 2000 a massive landslide took down the slope that hosted the concentrator-light vehicle road and settled on the levee forming a water reservoir. Since then minor landslips and residues of human activity have banked here.

In 2015 gravel slips at the stoppage and a landslide Shoofly Corner of the port-mine access road washed down and further buried the levee beneath the mine’s concentrator area. Now the water from the meeting rivers are flowing over the sedimentation from the eastern side of the levee to get onto the western side of the levee.

Thus now every rain fall is creating a massive lake behind the stoppage that floods the areas of the former mine’s light vehicle workshop, the secondary crushing site, the gravel processing site, the communication centre and the tyre workshops.

According to people nearby, the flooding have few more months to reach a conveyer belt tunnel near the secondary crusher site to flow down the solid waste spreader lane to begin burying the communities of the Tumpusiong Valley.

Most of the water though is now being leached into the gravel land every time it floods.

On days without rain the formed body of water remains well over the rim of the V-shaped levee. With rain it just spills onto the roads jamming traffic that now employs the mine side to travel since the concentrator side was affected beyond repair by landslide and gravel slips.

The most communities with the most fear for the future are downstream in the Upper Tailings area. After the crisis began and mine operations ceased many people left the mountains and began settling along the Kavarong River banks and the Panguna-Jaba section of the highway that runs onto South Bougainville.

Most people now run their businesses and have built fine homes here thus any disaster that happens if the levee is not corrected early means they will lose all their valuable assets.

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Development impeded by communication breakdown

682-koromira-kidsResearch conducted by Ishmael Palipal in his final year of study at Divine Word University has found that there has been a communication breakdown in Koromira, which has led to a lack of collaboration and the breakup of traditional community structures.

Poor communication has led to reduced community engagement, land disputes, local political agendas and jealously, ultimately affecting the community development of Koromira.

A local clan leader said that people have become more individualist because they lack communication with leaders and engagement on decision making.

“If a leader calls up a meeting, only few will attend, but the rest will go about doing their own business,” the clan leader said.

“Since they were not present at the time of the decision making on certain changes in the society, they might be the opposition or hindrance to new change planned to take place.”

Palipal’s research also identified that communication between leaders because of factionalism and political agendas causes of negative community development outcomes in Koromira.

“Different leaders have interest in developing different projects which do not eventuate because there are always disagreements,” said a local PMV driver.

“To make it worse, each leader has his/her own hidden agenda; why they want to implement a certain project and not the other.”

As the population increases and extended families grow in the matrilineal society of Koromira there are ongoing land conflict issues and this is exasperated by the breakdown of community communication.

“With the ongoing land disputes in our communities, it is causing a blockage for new developments to eventuate,” said one village elder.

“Some of our people are so stubborn and wanted to own every land they desire.”

As landownership is not well formalised there is a reliance on the older generations to pass down knowledge to younger people, but the communication breakdown in Koromira has seen this practice reduced.

The research also found that there is a lot of misinformation and conflicting claims to land which are difficult to resolve.

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