Caption: Calling for action ... Residents and villagers along the Magi Highway, including Koiaris and Motuans armed with bush knives, in Central last Friday blocked off the Bautama junction in protest over the lack of action into a double murder two weeks ago. Road users from the Motuan coastline, including Rigo and Abau districts, were restricted from getting into the capital city from as early as 4am. The protesters also petitioned for the eviction of the 6-Mile settlement and for justice to be served on those responsible for the killings. A four-day ultimatum, which expires today, was issued.– Nationalpic by EKAR KEAPU
By ANGELINE KARIUS
TENSION is on a knife’s edge after bush-knife wielding Koiaris and Motuans blocked the Bautama junction last Friday in protest over the lack of action into a double murder there two weeks ago, The National reports,
All road users along the highway from the Motuan coastline, including Rigo and Abau districts, were restricted from getting into the capital city from 4am last Friday.
At the scene, agitated and armed youths guarded part of the road for 5km leading to a gathering of Koiaris waiting to hand over a petition to government officials.
The Koiaris gave a four-day ultimatum which would expire today for the provincial and national governments. They wanted:
· Both Goilala politicians, Governor Alphonse Moroi and Goilala MP Matthew Poiya to meet all funeral expenses for the two deaths;
· Payment of K2 million as compensation;
· Increase in police personnel at Bautama to be stationed at Koiari and Motuan villages along the Magi Highway;
· Reintroducing the Vagrancy Act and death penalty; and
· Creation of a Koiari open electorate to ensure sustainable socio-economic activities in the area, including transport, electricity and water supply.
The action was sparked by a double murder in the area two weekends ago when a Grade 10 student from Mt Diamond Secondary School was murdered at his Madowate village.
Koiari committee chairman Rev Baru Gou said failure by the government to address the petition would result in “further actions”.
He did not say what those actions would be, only that they would be revealed when the deadline expired.
He said locals had been living in fear and “enough was enough”.
After the handover of the petition, several houses belonging to the Goilalas at the 6-Mile dump settlement known as ‘Dark Street’ were burnt to the ground.
Police yesterday confirmed the flare-up, saying more than 40 makeshift homes were completely burnt to the ground.
However, quick response by the police, led by NCD metropolitan commander Supt Joseph Tondop, stopped further destruction in the area.
It was unclear how many Goilala families had been affected.