COST OF LIVING SKYROCKETS IN PNG’S HIGHLANDS

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Area isolated by landslide

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 23, 2008) –Prices of goods and services in parts of the Highlands region have doubled from yesterday with transport operators penalizing passengers as fuel runs low and most of the depots have already shut down.

This is becoming a major concern for the people and the Government faces pressure to intervene quickly to clear the roadblock caused by the landslip at Gera village outside Kundiawa. The wrecked stretch of road at Gera is crippling business houses and people in parts of Kundiawa, Western Highlands, Enga and Southern Highlands have been severely affected by the increase in prices of goods and services.

In Mt Hagen the prices of goods and services are up a 100 percent and in Wabag, the capital of Enga, prices are increasing at an alarming rate.

Mathew Takasore, the provincial forestry officer in Wabag, said yesterday fuel in Wabag had run out and the prices on goods had soared.

"A 20kg bag of rice that cost K50.54 in some outlets is now going for K100 [US$ 37.48] in Wabag. And the PMV fares are also doubling," Mr Takasore said.

"Supplies at the only fuel depot in Wabag have been bought up by the Health Department in Wabag for its vehicles and there is no way we can get fuel for our normal daily services," he said.

The fuel shortage in Hagen City and Enga and Southern Highlands is affecting many. The fuel price has increased in the last few days with petrol going at K4.02 [US$1.50] per liter, kerosene at K3.54 [US$1.32] a litre and diesel K3.75 [US$1.40] a litre.

In Hagen, vehicle owners waited from 6am to 3pm at Intkana fuel service station, to refuel only to be told there was no fuel.

Planes carrying passengers and cargo destined for Kagamuga airport outside Hagen, had to cut back or offload their cargo as fuel was not available in Mt Hagen, according to sources at the airport. Basic store goods are also fast running out despite the price hike. Customers have no choice but to buy or miss out.

The road at Gera village is not yet fixed as the landslip continues, chairman of the Gera restoration committee John Kamane said yesterday. Mr. Kamane said the Government should look at relocating the affected people instead of rerouting the highway which will cost more than K20 million.

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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