Thursday, April 28, 2011

Call to stall land leases

By ROSALYN EVARA, Post Courier
THE debate on the Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABL) has heightened in Madang with calls now being made to government to suspend the issuing of any more until proper investigations are conducted into the existing ones.
The calls are from landowners and non-government organisations in the province.
Speaking during a recent SABL meeting NGO worker Rosa Koian said government must move swiftly to taking this measure and seriously in light of the amount of land which had been acquired by this means, especially in the last six months.

“As of January 2011, a total of 5 million hectares of land, has been acquired through this means. 2.7million of which were acquired within just six months from 2010 and 2011.The land sizes are the equivalent to the land mass of Morobe and Madang Provinces put together. The government must find out about the processes which were involved in the issuing of these leases as many landowners were never made aware before their land was taken from them,” she said.
She said many of the companies obtaining these leases were obtaining them under the pretext of having the land developed for agricultural purposes but were more interested in the logging aspect which logically would have to take place first. The meeting heard that subsequent searches which had been done had found many of these leases to be signed off by very prominent people.

HIV rife in Madang, EHP

By PORENI UMAU, Post Courier
MADANG and Eastern Highlands provinces have been revealed as provinces with very high number of youths with HIV infections.
This came from Natasha Uri, Youth Outreach Project (YOP) officer with Save the Children PNG in Madang.
Ms Uri said that because of the high HIV infection among youths between the ages of 15-25 years in Madang and Eastern Highlands, YOP offices were established only in both provinces.
She did not reveal the figures but said that both provinces had the highest HIV infection rates in PNG among the young people.
She said that this was the result of multiple or concurrent sexual partners, abuse of alcohol and drugs with the ’kisim wara na pasim sua’ expression among many youths or paid sex which was on the increase.
Ms Uri said other factors were sexual violence or rape outside and within families against young people, inconsistent and improper condom use or young people being discriminated when visiting health centres to acquire condoms.
She said that health workers insulted young people, saying they were too young and should not be engaging in sexual activities, forcing the young people to shy away, putting their lives in danger.
She also said there was limited access to service providers such as the Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT).
She also said that traditional customs that forbid sex being discussed publicly was also another major factor that had restrained young people from getting enough information on sex to be aware of the dangers involved.
Ms Uri said that because of the increasing number of youths being infected with HIV, youth outreach projects were set up to provide awareness to youths on HIV prevention, how to avoid sexually transmitted infections and unwanted teenage pregnancies and also for the young people to access information on child rights.
She said that other services include referral to clinics, teach the youths on music, dance and sports skills and provide an avenue for young people to socialise and exchange ideas to shape a better life in the future.

Pact with EU will boost tuna industry

The National, Monday, April 18, 2011

A EUROPEAN Union (EU) economic partnership agreement (EPA) is major boost for the Papua New Guinea fishing industry, Fisheries Minister Ben Semri said.
Semri said the agreement would benefit the country through direct foreign investment, employment and poverty alleviation.
The EPA between the two parties was signed in 2009.
The agreement provided access for PNG canned tuna into European markets without any import duties.
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration Don Polye thanked the EU delegation who supported PNG to secure global sourcing for fisheries exports into EU market.
He said the government was taking measures to ratify the deal quickly so it could implement the provisions in the agreement.
Polye said this at the first meeting of the trade committee under the EPA with EU representatives in Port Moresby last Friday.
Polye said local canned tuna could be found on European markets at a competitive price be­cause it enjoyed no import duty.
He encouraged other Pacific Islands to sign EPAs with EU to enjoy similar benefits.
Polye encouraged local fishermen and women to embrace fishing as the agreement had added va­lue to fisheries.
Semri thanked the European countries that voted 80% in favour of allowing direct export of PNG canned tuna to European shores.
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Thompson said both parties agreed with the EPA PNG could inspire other Pacific nations to join the agreement.
“The EU remains committed not only to supporting PNG in implementing the agreement, but to strengthen it further by deepening its coverage – to include provisions on development, services, investment and sustainable management of fishery resources – and widening its membership to other Pacific Island Countries,” Thompson said.
Polye said  PNG could become the tuna capital of the world should all go well in the agreement.
He said that the EPA added value to PNG’s as­pirations which other Pa­ci­fic island counties could benefit from as well.
“To make PNG the tuna capital, we must grasp the opportunity available and take ownership of the development,” Polye said.
He stressed the EPA would promote other spin-off businesses outside the fisheries industry.
“Most important of all is the engagement of women and youth in this business, women and children being significant component of our population,” Polye said,
Semri said: “The beauty of it is that huge revenue associated with the tuna market where no duty or taxes will be charged on every tonne of tuna lands on EU market”.
“Not only our tuna is very competitive in the EU markets and that will greatly benefit our economy,” he added.
Meanwhile, the two-day African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) review seminar meeting will start at  Lamana Hotel today.
The EPA between EU and ACP countries is aimed at promoting trade between the two groups through trade development, sustainable growth and poverty reduction.
EPA set out to help ACP countries integrate into the world economy and share in the opportunities offered by globalisation.

Torres Strait and PNG travel banned

The National, Wednesday, April 27, 2011
ALL travel between the Torres Strait and PNG for traditional purposes is now banned as health authorities keep a close eye on a malaria outbreak on Saibai and Dauan.
The Australian department of foreign affairs and trade (DFAT) said the ban would prevent malarial patients from PNG placing further strain on an already fragile health system.
“Please be aware that malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes, not person to person contact, so the restriction is not in place to prevent the spread of malaria,” the DFAT spokesperson said.
“Rather, it is to prevent further strain on the limited health resources available on the Torres Strait Islands where there are malaria cases.”
Queensland health public health medical officer Dr Steven Donohue said the outbreak could not be declared over.
“The incubation period of the malarial parasite in the Anopheles mosquito is one to two weeks, and can be more than two or three weeks in a person,” Donohue said.
“The last case on Saibai was detected on April 10, so we will be actively looking for new cases for several weeks yet.
“We need to be very vigilant. Queensland health has put extra staff on the ground, with teams going house-to-house looking for people who may be infected.”
Health officers on Saibai were giving people advice about malaria prevention, with seven locally acquired cases of the disease confirmed since March, he said.
Travel restrictions were put in place on March 28, with some exemptions for traditional activities of significance.
But last Friday, a DFAT spokesperson said allowances would no longer be made for activities under the Torres Strait Treaty.
These include hunting, fishing, gatherings for ceremonies or social purposes, and barter and market trade.
“The restriction is in place on the Torres Strait-PNG border for all activities until April 30,” the spokesperson said.
A department of immigration and citizenship spokesperson said its movement monitoring officers would continue to work with island councillors and communities to monitor movement in the region.
“Traditional inhabitants who travel during a suspension will be refused immigration clearance, and their return to Papua New Guinea will be facilitated,” the spokesperson said.
“In addition, surface and air surveillance is conducted by border protection command, which conducts joint maritime patrols with PNG authorities.”
Donohue said PNG nationals with malaria had been presenting to health facilities in the Torres Strait on a regular basis for a long time now.
“People should not be quick to blame PNG nationals for the outbreak, he said. – Torres News Online

Madang, new softball kings

The National, Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Kings are the new national softball champions after defeating Lae Red 4-2 in the men’s grand final at the 36th NGCB national championships at the National Sports Institute Oval, Goroka,  yesterday.
In the women’s grand final, defending champions Pacific MMI Port Moresby saved their best for the last coming from behind to clinch a 2-1 victory 2-1 over newcomers Kavieng.
Playing in their maiden final, Kavieng got there by upsetting top teams Lae Gold and Lae Red for the right toface the defending champions.
Kavieng registered their first point through right outfielder Flavia Panga who scored a three-base hit after two down.
Then second-base Elma Kalven sent a ball into the outfield to bring her home for Kavieng’s first and only point of the afternoon.
The next six innings remained scoreless until the final inning when Port Moresby pitcher and female player of the tournament Natalie Bart levelled the score 1-1.
Bart made a three-base hit to safely secure the third base before Josepha Raphael hit the ball to centre outfield to bring her home, and she advanced to firs and second base.
Next on the batting box was veteran Selina Karai, who made a similar hit to centre outfield to bring Raphael home to seal the match.
The men’s encounter went down to the wire the lead changing hands in the first two innings before Madang stamped their mark in the bottom of the fourth inning with three runs.
Madang got the score sheet rolling at the bottom of second  when Kelly Upaupa got home for the first point of the final.
However, at the top of the third inning Steven Bunbun scored after he made a three-base hit.
Pitcher Simon Mark made a sacrifice fly to bring him home while he was caught out to level the score at 1-1.
At top of the fourth inning, Peter Simon made a two base hit before a Mark Ilam hit put Lae in front 2-1.
Lae introduced Paul Keleu at the bottom of the fourth which saw Madang register three runs through Meli Tarangau, Mathew Pokanau  and Joe Petau to push out to a 4-2 lead. Lae sensing the game was slipping away made a re-entry call to bring back opening pitcher Anslem Bunbun but Madang kept a tight lid on the remaining three innings to win the match.
In the third place playoff, Lae Red came from behind to beat their sister team, Lae Gold 6-5 in the women’s game while, Lae Gold (men) won on forfeiture against the defending champions, Port Moresby after their players inexplicably did not turn up on the NSI field for their scheduled third place playoff match.
Tournament director and senior vice-president of PNG Softball Federation Ralph Tarasomo thanked all 28 teams that participated in three-day tournament in Goroka.
He also thanked the Goroka Softball Association for hosting the trouble-free Easter weekend championships.
The next softball championship is slated for Port Moresby next year.
However, he reminded the top four clubs from each association to start preparing for the club championships in Port Moresby during the coming Independence weekend.

Home Yama: Probe withdraw of K1.3m case

The National, Thursday, April 28, 2011
MADANG businessman and former politician Peter Yama wants a police investigation into why a K1.3 million misappropriation of funds case against an Australian national was withdrawn by the state.
Australian national John Maddison was alleged to have misappropriated more than K1.3 million from Nesenal No.77 Ltd, which is part of the Yama Group of Companies.
Maddison had been charged with 49 counts of misappropriation.
Yama, who was the complainant in the matter, had expressed disappointment over the sudden dismissal of the proceedings.
He said the matter had already gone to the Committal Court process and was referred to the National Court for further prosecution because there was sufficient evidence to do so.
“There are hundreds of similar cases pending before the National Court and why was my matter so important for the acting public prosecutor to step in and withdraw the charges,” Yama said.
He said he was stunned by the actions of the recently appointed acting public prosecutor, Camillus Sambua, who withdrew the charges.
 “As a former cop, I have been involved in making arrests and prosecuting criminal matters but I have never come across instances where a public prosecutor steps in with a declaration to dismiss a matter,” Yama said.
He said such an intervention was rare and had disrupted a normal court process.
He said it was a dangerous precedent that could undermine the hard work of police who spent years of investigating and prosecuting matters.
“My matter did not just pop out anyhow; police took three years to investigate after I first laid the complaint.
“When they were satisfied that there was sufficient evidence, they carried out an arrest,” Yama said.
He said his matter was in relation to a high profile white-collar crime which involved professionals like bankers, accountants and lawyers collaborating to rip off money from individuals and business houses through the system.
He called on police to investigate, saying the nature of the matter was serious.
He said the justice system should prioritise such matters to weed out stealing and corrupt practices.
He also called on prominent lawyers to speak up about the National Court dismissing a case based on a declaration from the office of the public prosecutor without considering the nature of the matter and the suffering caused to the complainant.

Madang RL elects new president

The National, Thursday, April 28, 2011
JACK Taraika is the newly-elected president of Madang rugby league.
The former vice-president was elevated to the highest office at a recent annual general meeting convened last Monday.
Former league president Snr Insp Philip Welia travelled from Bulolo to chair the meeting.
Welia did not contest a second term due to his recent posting outside the province.
He affirmed his confidence in Taraika as his successor.
Other newly-elected league executives include vice-president, Paul Male, treasurer Murry Koimo and secretary David Teine.
Last year’s AGM was scrapped after it was deemed improper by the members.
The former president did not convene or chair that meeting and only three eligible clubs attended. 
Six of the eight clubs attended the recent AGM confirming beyond doubt Taraika’s legitimate election to the top post.
The executives will hold their first meeting  tomorrow to finalise the season calendar.
A general meeting will be held on May 5 to confirm club affiliation.
Clubs are asked to pay  their K500 affiliation fees  before they will be included in the draw for this season.
Rugby league in the sleepy tourist town of Madang is showing signs of real development.
A school boys competition was introduced last year.
Two newly-established clubs East United and Bomai Panthers have also confirmed to affiliate to Madang rugby league this year bringing the total clubs to 10 and strengthening the competition.

7.5% pay rise next fortnight

The National, Thursday, April 28, 2011
PUBLIC servants can expect their much-anticipated pay increase of 7.5% in their pay packets next pay day with housing benefits still a contentious issue.
The pay increase will be backdated to January this year.
The K500 accommodation subsidy buy-out will be implemented by the Department of Personnel Management (DPM), but will not be included in the salary fixation agreement for this year to 2013 to be signed this morning between PEA president Michael Malabag and DPM secretary John Kali.
Malabag, in a letter dated last April 19, responding to Kali’s letter of April 15, stated that PEA had opposed the government’s “buy-out” of allowance plan which it viewed as inferior and was not in line with the union’s claim of K250 on top of the current K7 subsidy rate. Malabag said: “I will take into consideration your letters stating that the government will proceed with its intention to apply K500 across the board to all salary scales and that the general order accommodation subsidy will cease forthwith, although it will not be included in this agreement.
“PEA will pursue this matter with the public service conciliation and arbitration commission with the intention of reaching an amicable resolution,” Malabag said.
He also welcomed the consumer price index (CPI) clause in the agreement, to be added as a protection against inflation projections, which was an added bonus on the salary adjustments.
“PEA is also satisfied with your offer of ‘recreation leave fares’ to be made available in full for public servants and their dependents.”
Malabag said both DPM and PEA must reach a separate agreement on other matters such as retrenchment and retirement, reduction of 35% tax on final payment of entitlements and compulsory life and health insurance cover and risk allowance.
“We commend you for creating and improving better terms and conditions of employment in the public service.”
The official signing ceremony for the 7.5% pay rise for public servants, slated for April 14, was deferred due to differences over housing conditions.
The government had approved a 6% increase with an additional 1.5% for productive performance. On top of that, the government had decided to make a K500 one-off payment in housing allowance.
However, the PEA had demanded a K250 fortnightly payment.
In his letter on April 15, Kali stated that because housing was not a condition of employment for public servants and an allowance was, therefore, not negotiable, the government would proceed with paying K500 across all salary scales and effective from the date of implementation, it would also cease the general order accommodation subsidy.
“This decision is of significant benefit to the lowest paid employee and should not be denied to them,” Kali stated.
The K7 allowance per fortnight for public servants had been in the general orders for decades.

18-year-old widow gets nine years

The National, Wednesday, April 27, 2011
The forced marriage of a 15-year-old girl to a man has resulted in a double tragedy – the man is dead and his young wife, now 18, is to spend nine years in jail for killing him.
Sentencing Jenny Dei at the Madang National Court last Thursday, Justice David Cannings said the starting point for sentencing for this sort of killing was 13 to 16 years in jail.
However, he said the circumstances that led to the killing and the nature of the incident itself were strong mitigating factors that warranted a more lenient sentence.
He ruled nine years in jail with the pre-sentence period in custody of 14-and-a-half-months be deducted from that.
The court ruled no part of sentence was to be suspended, which means Dei will serve seven years, nine months and two weeks.
The court granted her request to serve her term at Buimo Correctional Institution in Morobe.
Dei wanted to serve her sentence there so she could be closer to her relatives.
“That is a reasonable request and I will sign a warrant of commitment to that effect,” Cannings said.
The court heard that on their marriage, Dei and her late husband, Bob Wari, moved to live at
the Gusap oil palm plantation settlement in Ramu, Madang.
Dei’s home is in Kagua, Southern Highlands.
Dei was charged with the wilful murder of her husband but was convicted of manslaughter after the court rejected her self-defence claim because of her use of excessive force.
Cannings said the court established during the trial significant findings about the sort of marriage, the offender, the deceased and the circumstances of the incident.
“It was accepted that the offender, who was only 18 years old at the time, had been forced to marry the deceased against her will and that he was a violent man who failed to provide for her, routinely took her wages and often assaulted her,” Cannings said.
“Two days before the incident, she lent him K20 but he went off gambling.
“When he returned she asked him about the K20 which made him angry and struck her on the head with a rock.”
This action caused her to use the knife she was holding to stab her husband.
“The post-mortem examination report showed that she inflicted a 13cm wound, penetrating through the neck into the lung, causing the lung to collapse and major blood loss.
Dei was convicted of manslaughter under section 302 of the Criminal Code.

Friday, April 1, 2011

New classrooms for Karkar Island schools

The National - Friday, April 1, 2011
TABEL Elementary and Primary School on Karkar Island, Madang, last weekend witnessed the launch of the new classroom buildings.
It is part of Digicel PNG Foundation rollout of new school infrastructure nationwide with the two schools each receiving two permanent classrooms.
Tabel Primary School received a new double classroom which took one month to complete.
Tabel Elementary was provided with 300 library books donated by Hope World Wide, slates and blackboards while the Tabel Primary was provided with 40 desks, a water tank and two bucket showers for the female students and a pit toilet.
The two double classroom kit-structure buildings, including an office space and related basic school materials were funded at a total cost of K250,000.
Tabel Elementary School started in 1995 and serves the people of Mangar 1 and 2, Kudu and Buson.
There are more than 200 children enrolled at the school and were taught by five teachers.
Tabel Primary School caters for the same communities as the elementary school and was established in 1958.
The are 342 students enrolled at the school with 12 teachers and is supported by the community through fundraisings.
Digicel Foundation chief executive officer Marina van der Vlies said communities on Karkar Island had shown that they could be self-reliant and look after their children’s basic education by fundraising and working hard to support their schools.
The Digicel Foundation singles out applications from those communities that are active in helping themselves with the little resources they have.
The foundation aims to initiate projects that will provide opportunities and inspire a positive and vibrant future for the communities within PNG.

Ramu NiCo helps farmers

RAMU NiCo project in Madang is providing many indirect benefits, apart from direct opportunities and benefits to the impacted landowners in many ways.
Supplying of fresh vegetables by local farmers is an obvious one.
Kanai Imai from Gogou village outside Basamuk refinery in the Raicoast district is one of those regular suppliers of fresh vegetables under the purchase order (PO) arrangement with NCS Raibus.
NCS is a catering company in PNG joint venturing with Raibus Ltd, the Ramu NiCo project landowner umbrella company serving meals to Ramu NiCo’s Basamuk refinery and Kurumbukari mine sites.
Imai and his family members supply fresh vegetables, including ripe bananas, raw banana, ripe pawpaw, snake bean, green bean, ripe pineapple, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and other fresh produces twice a day to Basamuk refinery.
He said such opportunities were not available in the past but now local farmers, including himself, could earn comfortable living after Ramu NiCo established it refinery at Basamuk.
Due to lack of road, he hires local dinghy to his village, Lamtub to pick up vegetables and dropped them at the Mendre beach for NCS vehicles to pick up.
Imai said previously MCC-Ramu NiCo gave them a better rate when purchasing their vegetables but NCS-Raibus had lowered the rates.
He hoped this could be improved to encourage more farmers to engage in farming as the mine could not employ all landowners.
It takes roughly eight hours to travel from his Lamtub village to Basamuk, costing K200 to hire a truck for every trip.
But Imai admitted that his earning caters for other expenses and went home with sufficient earning, compared to his past agricultural engagement in copra and cocoa.
Imai also noticed that with the growing work force and three meals served a day, he would like to increase his produce so that the supply was constant or else vegetable growers from other provinces would compete with him.

source: The National

Potty Hole Madang

This section of the road in Madang Town leading to Ela Emporium, Ela Motors, Kalibobo clothing and Butchery is just one of the many similar figures in and around Madang Town. Due to continuous rain and overlook by the Provincial Government of Madang, the road conditions have greatly deteriorated. Madang Town is slowly developing into a Pot Hole Town. We hope for something to be done about this soon.

Looting-related cases cited at Modilon hospital

By JAYNE SAFIHAO, The National
THE Modilon General Hospital has received 30 patients with knife wounds  and about 10 with stomach pains, diarrhoea and vomiting due to food poisoning as a result of consuming products looted from the burnt supermarket last Saturday, hospital staff said.
The symptoms were explained as minor but patients were closely monitored and later discharged .
The cases stemmed from reportedly eating and drinking tinned and bottled food and alcohol scavenged from the burnt shop.
During the fire, looters and opportunists laid their hands on anything they could, including policemen and security guards themselves, it was claimed.
It was also claimed that many settlements had men on a drinking spree from the free “boiled” beer, spirits and wines.
According to a resident medical officer who did not want to be named, the knife wound patients were mostly men who, after drinking, got involved in fights.
 “When they came here, we asked them how they were hurt and they said  from fighting after drinking the looted beer”.
With  the other patients, he said it was mostly women who came with stomach pains while others with diarrhoea or pains said they ate tinned fish and meat reportedly sold cheaply at their compounds after Saturday’s fire.
Only two patients were sent to the cholera command centre, one diagnosed with cholera, who was under observation when The National called while the other was monitored and later discharged.
Although health warnings were issued to residents during the fire last Saturday, opportunists were reportedly spotted yesterday morning leaving the burnt down wholesale with bags of 10kg rice  and bags full of SP bottles found amid the burnt debris.