PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Sept. 4, 2008) - The current alarm about the risk of flooding in Lae City and the harm already seen in nearby Labu make a mockery of government planning.

Why are these natural disasters recurring year after year and the same panic stations are being created? Flooding is nothing new to Lae and the nearby environs.

We know there are big rivers in and around the city and that they can turn into monsters with a week or more of steady rain.

Lae is a magnet for storms and heavy rain.

Oldtimers can tell any government planner, any disaster prevention specialist, any engineer, that the natural elements are a constant threat to the area.

So why are people still groping with the problem?

It was a problem way back in the colonial era, when expensive houses built by people who should have known better were washed away by the rampaging Bumbu River.

Saying this is not to speak against the efforts being made by the officers who are currently charged with trying to cope with the effects of the current wet weather.

They must do all they can and we pray that they get all the support, financial and technical, that they need to save houses and people.

But the longer term view must be taken: what has to be done to weatherproof Lae and the nearby highly populated villages from the inevitable seasonal rains?

Surely there have been studies done of the environment and the potential for harm from the weather in the area. Where are those reports? Dust them off and see how they relate to the current day situation and then, make decisions to do something to save our second biggest city from disaster!

Lae was largely created by the necessity to abandon another capital, that of Rabaul when that volcano-prone town was the centre of government for pre-war New Guinea.

Do we want the same to happen to Lae in this modern era?

If New Orleans could be made relatively safe from hurricanes after Katrina, why can’t we do something about preparing for the inevitable and doing something to lessen the effects of the rains and the rivers pounding away at the soil?

It would be a good start if somebody with a sense of the big picture in the Government could grab hold of this issue and lead a charge for action.

Anyone willing to put their hand up?

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