LIFE RETURNS TO NORMAL IN PORT MORESBY

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 29, 2001 – Post-Courier)---Port Moresby yesterday gingerly picked up the pieces from Tuesday’s violent rioting.

The public transport system was back on deck, enabling people to get to work.

Initially in the morning the buses allocated the route past the University of PNG’s Waigani campus refused to ferry commuters, saying they would only take them as far as Waigani. But as the day panned out, the buses returned to normal services to all points of the city.

Public offices, businesses and shops also re-opened, allowing those hit by rioting on Tuesday to start counting their losses and city residents to venture out.

Service stations re-opened also for business with a few immediately needing a re-supply of petrol, especially after heavy demand over two days.

Government offices, while open, were not fully manned as some workers stayed away in anticipation of more problems.

Those that were in, however, worked the normal government hours, closing as usual at 4:06 p.m.

Banks also re-opened for business, much to the relief of city residents who were beginning to face cash problems.

Long queues immediately formed at refreshed Automatic Teller Machines for the PNG Banking Corporation as early as 8:00 a.m.

Schools remained closed, following a decision by the National Capital District Education Office on Tuesday to shut down all schools and have students take their second-term school holidays early. The term holidays were to have started next Monday.

The grounds of the Port Moresby General Hospital, scene of a gathering on Wednesday by sympathizers of university students mourning the killing of three colleagues, was deserted yesterday.

Traffic flow through that area was back to normal.

Activity in the city started slowly and picked up as the day wore on with residents and workers waiting as late as 9:00 a.m. to start making their way to work or to the shops.

Police continued to throw a heavy cover of their presence around the city with a very visible presence in areas where the most damage was made by rioters on Tuesday.

Port Moresby city has been reeling from the effects of rioting on Tuesday following the police breaking up a UPNG student-led peaceful protest on Monday night.

The students had been camping outside Morauta Haus, the office of the Prime Minister, to force him to personally receive their petition on national issues since last Wednesday. He did not accede to that demand until Monday, after which the police said the student should break up their camp. They did not, explaining it was cheaper for them to stay another night and await the Prime Minister’s reply to their petition the following day.

Police dispersed the camp at about 10:30 p.m. that night with gunfire and tear gas. The students retaliated the same night by torching two government vehicles, attracting police attention that resulted in the killing of three students.

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

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