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PNG’S DARU TOWN AT THE BRINK OF COLLAPSE Government, community, jail, police, hospitals in bad shape

By Mohammad Bashir PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Sept. 20, 2011) - After 36 years of independence, one town has nothing to show for.

The once peaceful town of Daru in Western province is on the verge of collapsing and the impact is being felt around this vast province.

There is no government presence with Governor Bob Danaya operating in Port Moresby because his official residence is rundown and has been taken over by squatters while Provincial Administrator William Goinau operates from Kiunga in North Fly district where the executive arm of the provincial government is stationed, although Daru is still the government seat.

The local magistrate has fled the province because the jail has been closed for seven years and he has nothing to do.

Convicted criminals are roaming the streets with ordinary citizens on good behaviour bonds and that has send fears to the community.

The 15 or so Correctional Officers employed at the Bomana jail are drawing pay from the government coffers for doing nothing.

Most doctors of the Daru general hospital have also deserted with the last one leaving last Wednesday while the acting Chief Executive Officer Dr Amos Lano is in Port Moresby on private business.

Administrator Goinau on Sunday admitted the serious nature of the situation.

Locals have forcefully built a new cemetery in town because the old one is full.

With no court, no jail and a stretched police force numbering just under 20, locals are living at the mercy of criminals.

"Daru is the only place in the world where convicted criminals are roaming the town with ordinary citizens," Mr. Goinau said.

The Daru hospital has no drugs and the three buildings funded under AusAID and the South Fly District Services Improvement Program (DSIP) are incomplete.

At about 3am on Sunday, a patient taken to the hospital for complaints of malaria was treated with chloroquine. Hospital staff say all they have were chloroquine and panadol but they have now also run out of the latter.

Mr. Goinau said drug was a problem in all hospitals in the country and Daru was no exception.

A number of elders which include retired public servants have organized themselves into a group they call "Community Coalition Against Corruption" (CCAC) and have resolved certain remedial measures forward for authorities to implement to rescue the province.

Among them is the immediate suspension of the provincial government and the Daru hospital management and appointment of caretaker administrators.

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