Rally Opposes Highway Connecting PNG Highlands To Moresby

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Papua People’s Congress leads opposition to trans-island road

By Maureen Gerawa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 3, 2014) – A peaceful rally held on Saturday in Port Moresby has been blunt with its demand that there will be no highway built to connect the Highlands to Port Moresby as well as from Morobe to Port Moresby.

Those who attended the rally at Jack Pidik Park at Five-Mile, said a petition which is being circulated among the Papuan community will be presented to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

The rally, organised by Papua People’s Congress, was led by former MPs Dame Josephine Abaijah and Galeva Kwarara, also at the forefront of Papuan self-rule and autonomy in the 1970s.

About 800 people, the majority educated elite from the Papua region, attended the event to sign the petition.

Mr Kwarara told the gathering that Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki and Metropolitan Commander Andy Bawa had approved the rally on the condition that it was peaceful and participants had responded accordingly.

"We are peaceful and orderly people. Let’s prove this to these two (Vaki and Bawa)," Mr Kwarara said.

The stiff opposition to the trans-island highway would continue in a peaceful manner on top of other outstanding issues being pursued by the Papua People’s Congress.

"We are here to ensure that Papuan people come together and stop the trans-islands highway coming through," said Mr Kwarara.

He said National Capital District is already facing a population boom, lacked health and education resources and a new highway would only add to the city’s woes.

"The new highway will bring more problems which the Government cannot solve," Mr Kwarara said.

Central Provincial Council of Women president Laeko Bala said women and children were suffering due to issues relating to land-grabbing and urbanisation. She called for a stop to the trans-highway.

Representatives from all the other provinces in the region also opposed the highway.

But a Gulf Province representative said the people from Gulf did not oppose the first highway from Southern Highlands Province because this province had a long history with the people of Gulf and the Papua region.

Meanwhile, Dame Josephine told the gathering that a lot of issues she had raised as Papua Besena leader in the 1970s were coming back to haunt the Papuans 40 years on.

She used the opportunity to highlight the work done by Jonathan Baure and other young people on the Papua autonomy question. Dame Josephine said the Papuan struggle was far from over, but it must be maintained peacefully.

She is hoping for a bigger rally at KilaKila village on Thursday.

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