PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Jan. 4) - The forced closure of the Passam National High School by nearby villagers over claims of pollution is a matter of grave concern. Hundreds of students selected to continue their secondary education at that school will be badly affected by this action.

[PIR editor’s note: Passam is located in the Papua New Guinea province of East Sepik, in the north-central region of the PNG mainland peninsula.]

The Government should step in and find an amicable solution to this problem, as the school year is about to begin. With limited space available in many existing schools, the closure of Passam National High School is going to have long-term effects on the future of many innocent young people eager to pursue further education.

The villagers’ claims of environmental pollution should be properly investigated and if proven, then urgent steps need to be taken to remedy the situation.

Clean water supply is a basic human need and claims such as this need to be given urgent attention.

We hope that a solution will be found before the start of the school year so that students selected to go to Passam National High School this year are not disadvantaged.

By the same token, we urge that government authorities should ensure the concerns of the village people are properly investigated and their source of water protected.

The threat of water-borne diseases coming from a polluted water supply must not be treated lightly and everything possible must be done to find a solution to the problem.

This problem is just another example of neglect by government authorities of concerns raised by village people on various matters.

It seems that each time villagers raise concern about any particular matter, promises are made to look into it and solutions found - yet nothing eventuates. The Government machinery needs to be pro-active and deal with concerns of this nature as soon as the first complaints are raised -- from the very beginning -- to prevent them getting to this stage.

The old saying is true; where there is smoke, there is fire. So when the smoke appears on the Waigani radar screen, steps should be taken to ensure that the smoke does not become another raging bush fire.

The people of Paliama have waited for a long time for an answer to their concerns. We do not endorse their action which we believe is illegal, but this action is the direct result of failure by government authorities to do the right thing by the people.

It is time people are treated with respect by those authority and their concerns, whether big or small, are not neglected because somebody in authority does not believe in them.

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