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Oil palm growers seeking pay turned away by bank

By Simon Eroro

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 29, 2009) –Hundreds of people went on a rampage in Popodetta on Friday and looted Asian-owned shops in the town.

Reports reaching the Post Courier last night say the rioters smashed the Bank South Pacific branch, the Air Niugini office and emptied the six Asian-owned shops in the town at mid-day.

The rampage and looting was sparked off by oil palm growers who had come into town to collect their money but were turned away by the bank.

The farmers could not be paid because the bank could not clear the cheque paid in by the Higaturu Oil Palm Company because of a communication problem that day.

The reports say the frustrated oil palm growers smashed the windows and the situation turned ugly from there when settlers living on the outskirts of the town and the public joined in.

The reports say the police were unable to do anything because they were outnumbered.

The eyewitness said several people were treated at the Popondetta General Hospital for injuries sustained during the rampage. The reports said that one doctor’s vehicle was smashed and he was nearly injured in the riot.

The reports said BSP bank remained closed for the rest of Friday and it is understood, the bank will be closed this week until further notice from headquarters.

PNG Post-Courier

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