PNG Highlands Highway Open, Safe: Barola Leader

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Everyone except for Western Highlanders can travel unhindered

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 22, 2014) – The Highlands Highway is safe and commuters can travel freely without worrying about being attacked, a leader in Barola said.

That was the assurance given by Ben Yafive, a community leader in the once notorious Barola section of the highway.

Yafive said this on Saturday following the presentation of a petition to Eastern Highlands politicians the previous day.

"The road is opened already. The public can travel freely except for Western Highlanders," he said.

Yafive said the Barola people had agreed to let the traffic flow again after presenting their demands to their leaders.

He said the truck being torched and few others forcefully taken off the highway at the height of the incident was done out of frustration over the killing of the late Albert Gibson.

He said a vehicle belonging to a pastor of the Revival Church was returned to him on Saturday.

"There are nine or so other vehicles that will be returned to their owners," Yafive said.

He said the victim’s body was kept at the Glen Rowen Funeral Home in Goroka, Eastern Highlands.

He said the relatives and leaders of Barola would decide on the burial date.

Meanwhile, many Highlands-bound passengers have been stranded in Lae and Madang since Friday despite the reopening of the highway.

In Lae, buses were ferrying people as far as Yonki and Kainantu and charging K25 per person instead of the normal K20 for Kainantu.

Buses belonging to Western Highlanders were grounded in Lae with some carrying passengers to Madang.

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