Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Dead fish and animals continue to worry Western province villagers

Villagers from remote Iruupi village in the Western province continue to be plagued by dead fish in their Kura River as they await assistance from the provincial government.

And they now fear that what is contaminating the water could pass on to human beings and other animals and affect their whole livelihood.

The villagers last Thursday, September 25, raised their concern in a letter to Governor Bob Danaya, asking him to urgently send in experts to ascertain the exact cause of the fish dying.

They believe that the fish, including prized barramundi, could be dying because of oil or petroleum substances in the river.

Secretary of Naga Bewani Resource Association Kapena Memafu said from Daru yesterday, Wednesday, October 1, that provincial headquarters in Kiunga had agreed to send over an officer to assess the situation but they were still waiting.

He said that three villagers, a father and his two children, were very sick after eating taro boiled with water from the Kura River while out hunting last week and were waiting for transport to receive treatment at Daru hospital.

Mr Kapena said the number of dead fish surfacing continued to rise daily, crocodiles were surfacing and there was now widespread fear that birds, deer, pigs and wallabies – hunted for meat – could be poisoned.

“It’s getting worse everyday,” he said.

“Ducks and birds are dying.

“Crocodiles are also dying because their habitat is being disturbed.

“Deer, pigs and wallabies also drink water from the Kura and the fear now is that they could be poisoned.

“The crocodiles are coming out and are floating on the surface, causing fears that they could attack people.

“There are also a lot of barramundi in the river system.”

Bureaucratic red tape, in the form of funding being kept in far-off Kiunga, is the cause of the Iruupi villagers’ pleas not being heeded with the urgency it needs.

“We have just seen all the officers in Daru and they’re just waiting for funding to come over from Kiunga,” Mr Memafu said.

“I, in fact, saw the South Fly district administration but they are not responding.

“It’s only provincial headquarters who are responding.”

Iruupi, south of Daru near the Torres Strait, is closer to Australian than the Western province capital.


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