TYPHOID OUTBREAK FEARED AT PNG POLICE BARRACKS

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Pump breakdown leaves compound without water, sewage service

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 11, 2008) - Close to 500 police officers and their families continue to suffer as the absence of water to the Baliora police barracks outside Kokopo continues into the seventh week.

The main water pump which supplies the barracks broke down in June, leaving the families traveling long distances to collect safe water for drinking, cooking and washing.

Last Thursday a sergeant’s daughter was admitted to the Butuwin urban clinic suffering with typhoid, triggering an immediate test of several families at the barracks by the East New Britain health division.

The results of these tests will be available this week. The tests were to prove if typhoid resulted from the lack of water and if others could be at risk of catching typhoid.

The police stations at Rabaul and Kokopo were staffed by one or two officers as the bulk of the workforce went searching for water and other means to beat the water shortage.

The health division in Kokopo had earlier carried out an inspection with its report urging authorities to immediately attend to the water problem which was becoming a health issue.

The sewage system at the barrack’s houses were also blocked, forcing families to use nearby bushes.

The nearby primary school was forced to close down.

Policemen are not giving 100 percent to their duties and the mobile units at Tomaringa have been called on to crew the stations as others resort to helping families back at Baliora.

Police commander Allen Kundi said the police department was doing its best, having paid for water tanks to assist families.

Mr. Kundi said the commissioner had released PGK58,000 [US$23,000] last month which saw the purchase of the tanks.

Several companies in the province have come to the aid of the policemen, supplying timber, fuel, transport and other items to help them and their families set up the tanks.

Last Friday this paper visited the barracks and witnessed men, women and children working together to make bases for the tanks and to set up the tanks.

The fire service also brought water to the families.

If the typhoid tests prove the water problem is the cause, health authorities said it could lead to actions being taken against the police department for negligence and could even see the closure of the barracks.

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