TELECOMMUNICATIONS CUT AGAIN IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA

By Cyril Gare

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (October 30, 1998 - The National)---The capital's telecommunications links with 11 provincial headquarters as well as the United States of America and Singapore were cut yesterday in what is believed to be the second act of sabotage this week.

On Monday night, the fiber optic cable at Two-Mile Hill was cut throwing phone links in downtown Port Moresby and Konedobu areas into chaos.

Yesterday's damage was done to a similar cable at Four-Mile, near the Central Telephone Exchange Center. The exact nature of the damage was not revealed.

Telikom said last night that as of 12.45 p.m. yesterday satellite links to Alotau, Daru, Kavieng, Mount Hagen, Lihir, Wewak, Goroka, Lorengau, Kimbe, Madang, and Tabubil were completely severed.

Telecommunications with overseas destinations via satellite to the United States and Singapore were also completely cut off.

In the National Capital District, the Parliament House, Waigani Government offices, the biggest suburb of Gerehu, the University of Papua New Guinea Waigani campus, Gordons, Hohola and Boroko were also hit.

Technicians were working around the clock last night to restore communications, hopefully by today. Telikom has engaged a private contractor, Simtec Electrical, to repair the damaged cables.

"We are doing everything we can, we apologize to our valued clients for the inconvenience caused. The damages were beyond our control. It will take six to 12 hours to restore communications. We're hopeful of restoring communications in the morning," Telikom's public relations officer John Samar said last night.

Telikom claims it is losing about K 1 million (US$ 461,000) a day since its workers, who are members of the PNG Communications Workers Union, walked off their jobs on October 15 to force the Government to pay more than K 20 million (US$ 9.22 million) in the State's share of superannuation contributions to the National Provident Fund.

The State yesterday signed a deed of acknowledgement of the debt owed to the employees at the Government House.

However, the union said the money should be paid into its members account before it will lift the strike.

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasury and Planning Minister Iairo Lasaro last night appealed to the PNGCWU not to disrupt telecommunication services nationwide while Government officials and the NPF were working on options to solve the issue amicably.

"The disruptions to telecommunication services will only stay our efforts to try and settle the pay out issue without delay," Mr. Lasaro said in a statement.

"The blackout will deny Government access to communication as well as hurt the private sector."

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment