By MALUM NALU
Veteran Black Cat Trail porter Lionel Aigilo died on Sunday night after five days of excruciating agony at Angau Memorial Hospital in Lae without proper medical care and treatment.
He is the third to die after a gang killed two local porters, injured several others and attacked eight expatriate trekkers along the Black Cat Trail last Tuesday.
|Lionel Aigilo along the Francisco Rover during a fact-finding trek of the Black Cat Trail in July 2003.|
Aigilo, from Logui village in Salamaua, had both legs badly slashed and was awaiting amputation when he died.
He had been an active guide and porter along the Black Cat Trail since 2003 when trekking companies started operating there.
Both overseas and Papua New Guinea media reported last week of the shortage of medical staff and operating theatres at Angau to cater for the eight Black Cat Trail porters, and on the eve of independence, Aigilo sadly passed away.
EMTV last week showed footage of the badly injured porters lying on the floor because of no beds and awaiting operations that never eventuated.
Black Cat Trail Association chairman, Ninga Yawa, said yesterday that it took the death of Aigilo to spur operator, PNG Trekking Adventures, into action as the seven remaining survivors were moved to Lae International Hospital.
He said it was a sad indictment of both government and tour operators at the time of independence.
“Lionel and the other porters were in hospital for almost a week, however, the treatment given to them was not good,” Yawa said.
“I wanted PNG Trekking to put them in a good hospital, as they worked hard to make money for the company, but it was only this (yesterday) morning, after the death of Lionel, that they were moved to Lae International Hospital.
“The government has to look into this matter very seriously.
“We need some assistance from the government, especially when it comes to relatives, haus krais.
“The Prime Minister said he would take care of everything, however, if the porters are not treated, they will die one by one.
‘The PNG Tourism Promotion Authority also has to come in, as these porters worked very hard to bring into tourism money into the country.”
Yawa said the events of last week had been very stressful on everyone involved.
“These have taken their toll on all of us,’ he said.