Today's Cover Story...www.thenational.com.pg
By PETER KORUGL
PNG’s second city, Lae, was thrown into chaos yesterday amid fears of yet another ethnic war between people from two Highlands provinces. About 300 angry mud-smeared Engans wielding bush knives, sticks and iron bars marched from Kamkumung to Eriku oval in Lae city to protest the killing of one of their tribesmen by the driver and crew of a PMV bus last Saturday.
Western Highlanders, who own most of the PMV buses operating in Lae, withdrew their vehicles from the city roads yesterday fearing retaliation and also to demand police intervention to retrieve 11 25-seater PMV buses that were forcefully taken from them by the Engans.
The city has been in fear for a week now following the raid by 1,000 Unitech students on Sept 30, which left four families without homes and thousands of kina worth of properties destroyed.
Lae residents and Morobeans have, this week, called for the expulsion of illegal settlers as a result of constant violence in and around the city precincts.
Yesterday, tension was high about a possible ethnic clash between Engans and Western Highlanders over the death of a man identified as Keken Karapen of Kupin village in Wabag, Enga province.
Karapen succumbed to injuries he sustained during an argument over the non-payment of a 50t bus fare last Saturday.
In a move reminiscent of Port Moresby early in August, PMV operators pulled their buses off the road as early as 8am and stayed away all day to await the outcome of a meeting between the two conflicting parties at Eriku later in the day.
The shutdown on the public transport system affected schools, Government departments and businesses as well as ordinary people who were not able to do their shopping and marketing.
Many students turned up late for classes while employees turned up late for work. Many of the students and workers preferred to stay at home as they were not sure whether the PMVs would be back on the road in the afternoon.
Lae police yesterday brokered a peace meeting between the two groups.
In that meeting, Engans demanded for K150,000 in compensation from the Western Highlanders.
Both parties agreed to meet again next Saturday, and settle some of the compensation demand.
Addressing the peace meeting, Lae Metropolitan commander Supt Simon Kauba reminded everyone that Lae city did not belong to any particular ethnic group.
He said it was not right for people to mobilise in provincial groups and address problems.
“If you want to do that, go back home; you do not belong here.
“People from all over Papua New Guinea live here and, when you do these things, everyone suffers. Many of them are the innocent people,” Mr Kauba said.
Yeah banks and shops are available if you don't mind standing in the queue for hours on end with the unwashed.
You won't find better night clubs any where in the world
Stay away from the post office
On the bright side, the yachtie, the fishing and the flying. Tell ya mate to go visit for himself...
Did I tell the story about the bottle of vegetable oil, the compound and the hash run?