Posts Categorized: Central Bougainville

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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Port-Mine road endangered by artisanal miners

By Leonard Fong Roka

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Panguna District police head Peter Tauna has warned gold miners that their activities are putting the road and people in danger (pictured in uniform) during an unplanned visit to the alluvial mining slope along the western side of the Panguna mine’s port-mine-access road on Monday, 2 August 2016.

“This is a public road that serves us in the Panguna District and most of south Bougainville,” Mr Tauna told a group digging for gold some 10 metres from the road.

“It provides us the access to Arawa and Buka where we receive much needed services.

“You must be aware that this road came into existence with BCL,” Tauna continued,” our government has no financial capacity to create such a road for us.”

“We are people with common sense so we have to be responsible.

“Mine the locations of the slopes that you see will not contribute in harming this public road.”

The gathered artisanal miners, most of whom came from the Bana District of South Bougainville, said that they were aware of the dangers thus they have already marked a spot where the activities will be restricted to.

Since the alluvial gold was discovered on the slopes between the former Panguna Mine’s Camp 10 site and the Shoofly Corner section of the Port-Mine Access Road in 2010, artisanal miners from all over Panguna and Kieta Districts had rushed here to make a living.

There are also miners working here who come from Bana and even some from across other Bougainville’s sister islands on the Solomon archipelago.

According to the miners a number of people have also accidentally died here. The first was a man from Wakunai District and the most recent incident saw the demise of a person from the Malaita Province of the Solomon Islands.

They also said landowners from the Moroni Village who oversee their activities also are concerned about the safety of the road that serves the public and so had enforced the boundary where all artisanal miners should not pass with their activities.

Police Officer Peter Tauna and his officers carefully walked around the rocky slopes talking to the busy miners.

Tracking up the ore veins, it is evident people have dug through the bed rock creating ditches some of which comes right near the Port-Mine Access Road bitumen.

Since the discovery of the gold, the activities of the artisanal miners have taken over a massive area of natural jungle. The area covered is roughly more than the combined space of 5 soccer fields.

Deep holes were bored into the slope with crowbars and miners were seen working inside without any safety measures in place.

People could be seen from the road downhill moving like ants. Beneath another mass of workers work on the Karona Creek. They work with sedimentation that is washed down from the slopes.

Peter Tauna, head of the Panguna Police contingent emphasized that the boundary must be respected for the good of the travelling public that use the Port-Mine Access Road.

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Panguna ex-combatant hands over weapon for peace

By Leonard Fong Roka

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Albert Nekinu (pictured right), a former ex-combatant from Barako Village of the Panguna District, willingly surrendered his gun to the local police after he was touched by the Bougainville peace awareness of an auxiliary police officer Junior Taneavi (pictured left).

The young Nekinu joined the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) late in 1994, thus did not see much action with the dawning peace process. But he had a .308 mm WW2 US infantry rifle which he obtained in the Torokina ammunition dumps.

“I had the rifle to fight,” Mr Nekinu said, “but then our leaders talking about peace, thus I did not have much opportunity to go into action against the enemy.”

“But now that we are in peace, as an ordinary serviceman in the BRA, I feel sad when our leaders in the BRA who may have had a voice in the creation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) are still holding onto guns.

“Peace is what our people need to move Bougainville forward to independence,” Mr Nekinu continued.

“We want a weapon free Bougainville where everybody is free as it was embedded in the BPA.”

One auxiliary police officer, Junior Taneavi, is singlehandedly spearheading peace awareness in the Tumpusiong Valley area of the Panguna District.

Taneavi was catalytic to the surrender of the weapon and said that people should work towards a better peaceful Panguna District.

“Panguna District is where the crisis erupted from and so it is our business to get working,” Mr Taneavi said.

“Every combatant in the district, be they from the Meekamui or any other faction, must honour the BPA for it is here we are seeing change and services for us and the people.

“We cannot go elsewhere,” he continued, “the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) is the government we are eating from and nobody else.

“Thus we all have to uphold the BPA and move with it just like our young man Albert Nekinu.”

Mr Nekinu admitted that after listening to all the Officer Taneavi’s words of peace building on Bougainville he felt really guilty seeing that normalcy for Bougainville can only come through the way ABG is moving with in accordance to the BPA so he went home took his weapon and handed it over.

Junior Taneavi then brought the weapon to Officer Peter Tauna (pictured middle with Chief Michael Pariu) who is responsible for policing in the Panguna District.

On Monday 2 August 2016, the weapon was locked away under Bougainville Police Service custody.

 

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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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Arawa Secondary suspends classes to mourn the loss of teacher

By Benjamin Heriberth Noibio

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One of the best teachers ever seen at Arawa Secondary School, Mr Chanel Tavai, sadly passed away on Friday 6 May, after preparations for a family birthday.

Mr Tavai, from Sovele-Nagovis, South Bougainville, was well regarded as a hard-working man and he also owned vehicles which people hired, especially during elections to transport such things as ballot boxes.

Before his passing Mr Tavai was taking social science for lower secondary and other social science subjects for upper secondary.

A sudden sharp chest pain 3am alerted him to the onset of a heart attack. He was rushed to the Arawa Health Centre but tragically passed away before he could receive any treatment.

On Tuesday 10 May all the staff members including student representatives loaded four vehicles and went to Nagovis for Mr Tavai’s funeral.

Mr Talasi said that the school suspended classes as a mark respect of their departed colleague. The teachers and the students will miss him so much and it is a very sad incident.

“We were so sad to lose him,” said Mr Talasi, “he is one of the best teachers in our school.

Currently Mr Lasua, the principal, is looking for two teachers because the wife of late Tavai went home with the body and she might rest for a year before joining the team. His students will still remember him in their life time. The hand mark left behind will enable everyone to treasure him in their hearts.

 

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Arawa Health Centre receives donation from Australia

By Tevu Tenasi

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As Bougainville continues to rebuild, the Arawa District Health Centre has been fortunate to receive a donation from a Rotary group from Brisbane, Australia.

The delivery included children’s toys and dolls, hospital beds, bed sheets, pillow cases and first aid kits.

792-arawa-health-centreThe donation from Brisbane was arranged by an Australian friend, Mr John Davidson, and reached the shores of Bougainville. During his follow-up visit to Arawa at the start of May he was warmly welcomed by the Health Centre staff.

While Speaking to a group of staff Mr Davidson stated that all the new additions Centre’s itinerary came with the support of the Sunshine Coast Hospital and the Bougainville community in Brisbane.

He said that getting all the items together and bringing them to Bougainville a challenging task but was made easier with the help of Rotary.

792-davidson-vilosiSenior Medical Officer, Dr Joe Vilosi, gratefully thanked Mr John Davidson for his effective arrangement skills.

Dr Vilosi further stated that there is a need to identify what the hospital really needs.

He also thanked the Sunshine Coast Hospital in Australia for the donation.

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Midwifes celebrated in Arawa

By Tevu Tenasi

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Arawa celebrated International Day of the Midwife for the first time ever with a marching rally, led by Sr Elizabeth Mundri and Sr Genevieve Anisia and their midwifery colleagues.

The International Day of the Midwife (IDM) is celebrated by over 90 countries and occurs annually on 5 of May to recognise the vital role and responsibilities of midwifes.

The theme of IDM 2016 was “Women and Newborns: The Heart of Midwifery” and the midwives shared this event with the surrounding communities to emphasise their role in ensuring newborns receive the quality care they deserve. Every women and newborn deserves to have timely access to the best possible care before and after pregnancy and childbirth.

804-arawa-midwifesThe occasion stated off at the Arawa Health Centre with a marching procession of midwifes, Arawa Health Centre staff and teachers and students from the Arawa School of Nursing, led by a SDA Marching group under the escort of a police vehicle.

The parade which included about 100 participants ended in Arawa main market.

Keynote speaker and Principal of Arawa School off Nursing Sr Celyne Tusala delivered a powerful speech to all who were gathered.

She addressed issues surrounding women’s health, one being teenage pregnancy and maternal death.

“While a good number of women deliver in the healthcare facilities,” Sr Tusala said, “a handful are still unaccounted for or deliver in the village, increasing the risk of maternal death”

On the same note, the Acting Director Nursing Services in Arawa Hospital Mr Iggy Giranah further stressed that mothers are to take antenatal clinic visits seriously. This is first point of entry where midwifes check pregnant mothers and high risk mothers are identified.

“Mothers you are require four antenatal checks, with all the necessary tests done, for you to be identified as a booked mother,” Mr Giranah stated.

By attending regular antenatal visits, complications can be identified earlier and maternal death is also minimised.

Mr Melchior Dare, former Autonomous Bougainville Government Minister and paediatric nurse by profession, stated that one of the challenges to the health service delivery is the aging workforce.

“Aging in our health workforce today is crippling service delivery,” Mr Dare mentioned.

He called upon political leaders to support our two currently existing schools of nursing within the region.

The event wound down with acknowledgment of remarks to the sponsors of this event, NGIP Agmark, Forwarding & Shipping Services in Bougainville, Jayberth Stationaries, RAD Pharmacy, Land Link and Last Chance Hire Cars.

The day ended with light refreshments at the Moanava Clinic within the Arawa Health Centre.

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Cocoa the backbone for enterprise in South Nasioi

770-cocoa-tree-nasioiBy Gideon Davika

South Nasioi constituency is one of the areas in Kieta district that is a major producer of cocoa for Bougainville.

There are a good number of businessmen who are emerging out from South Nasioi who are bringing back much needed services to the community to meet the basic needs and wants for the locals.

Most of the entrepreneurs within the constituency have a history of once being cocoa growers and have cocoa plantations as the back bone, which supports them towards improving their other small businesses.

One of the businessmen, by the name of Carney, has a wholesale business back in the village and has PMV trucks which operate from South Nasioi to Arawa.

770-cocoa-deliveryHe started his business from a small financial capital which he got from harvesting cocoa from his cocoa plantation.

Carney said that his cocoa plantation has helped him a lot to extend his business from a small trade to a wholesale which supplies cargoes to other small trade stores within the constituency.

Eeko is also another family business that was also started in a similar manner. The company has retail, wholesale and a hardware stores which supply building materials and variety of other hardware goods.

One of the small trade store owner by the name of Vincent Daudee said that local businesses with wholesale stores have made it easier for them to get goods, which they buy from Arawa. He said that the prices are similar to the wholesalers in Arawa and the cost is ultimately cheaper because delivery of the cargo is free.

770-cocoa-treeThere are many cocoa farmers in South Nasioi who harvest huge quantities of cocoa. When the price is good these farmers can as much as K10,000 from dry beans, which they sell it to the local buyers. While some reinvest, most keep the money and others concentrate on such things as building their homes and buying stuff for their families.

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Panguna people cash cropping at east coast plantations

By Leonard Fong Roka

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More people from Panguna are now purchasing land blocks in the east coast corridor of Bougainville, stretching from the Buin District in South Bougainville to Tinputz District in the northern region.

Nearly all these people are moving off to grow cash crops, especially cocoa and food gardening, as a source of income.

“Not a single village in Panguna can be left out if one searches the origins of people now cash cropping in the many pre-crisis cocoa and copra plantations,” said Tumpusiong man Francis Batana.

“There are people from all the villages in Panguna planting cocoa and gardening along the coast.

“In the process many are also marrying into those coastal communities.”

Francis Batana took up a block of land at the old Kuruvina Plantation in 2012. He and his family have built themselves a living hut and spent most of their time there, returning home every weekend.

“Gold panning and its monetary value was shrinking here,” Batana said, “thus I left for Kuruvina in 2012, following other Panguna men who attained land blocks earlier”

“My cocoa trees are now ready to bare fruits and I will reap what I did sow.”

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People from Panguna, using little they earned from alluvial gold panning and other commercial activities especially the now gone scrap metal industry, have ventured into getting land blocks in the hot coastal areas.

“Cocoa grows more healthily down there than here in Tumpusiong and the rest of the Panguna District,” Batana continued.

“Many people were there when I arrived and still more people are coming after me.”

Panguna people can now be found in the Wisai area of Buin District and they are now also buying land blocks in Tinputz District. All plantations especially Arikua, Kuruvina, Tenakau and so on in the Wakunai District have a man from the Panguna District sweating in his block.

“Most of these plantations, left behind by owners, were subject to dereliction and overgrown by bush thus local customary landowners who take possession of them sell small blocks to us, “ Batana said, “so we are now reviving them slowly.”

Nearly all land block owners from Panguna hire vehicles to bring their garden produce for selling at home in Panguna. This development is now another big step forward for the Panguna people who lack farm land and rely on market food and vegetables for their sustenance.

“Those of us at the actual mine site in Panguna have no agrarian land,” Martin Nakara, a PMV truck owner from Guava Village and land block owner in Arikua said.

“So I have a block of land there for cocoa and food gardening.

“I am working Monday to Friday driving passengers from Panguna to Arawa and back. In the afternoon of Friday I and my family go back to the block to garden and work in our cocoa plot throughout Saturday. On Sunday we drive throughout the Panguna mine site and down the Tumpusiong Valley selling baskets of sweet potato and vegetables to the public.”

Martin Nakara’s charges K20 to transport land block owners and their garden produce from the blocks to Panguna every weekend. Most Panguna people employ his truck to travel and ferry goods.

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PNG Air spreads it wings to Aropa-Kieta

By Timothy Poroda

Monday 25 April marked the inaugural commercial flight of PNG Air in to Bougainville, the second to create a route to the re-established Aropa Aerodrome in Central Bougainville.

Since the re-opening of the airport the only airline that had previously maintained flights into and out of Aropa was the national carrier, Air Niugini.


PNG Air will configure the cabin as a 2+2, seating an estimated 72 passengers.

The inaugural flight marked another significant moment of the people of Bougainville especially those in Central and South Bougainville. The extension of PNG Air into the area brings competition in to the market and will have customers make their choice to travel on which airline which will then base on the variables that they regard as important. It will help the entire public, especially those with business activities.

The PNG Air aircraft which will be flown to Aropa-Kieta is a new ATR 72-7600 (P2-ATB), which arrived in Port Moresby from Toulouse in France on Sunday 17 April.

PNG Air has two of the ATR 72-7600, the leader of the current generation of prop aircraft which can boast a maximum cruising speed of 509 km/h and seats 72 passengers in the 2+2 seating configuration that will be used to Aropa.

Flights are scheduled to depart Buka at 16:20 destined for Kieta at 17:00 each Monday, Thursday and Saturday, with the return flight leaving Kieta at 17:30 and arriving at 18:10.

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