Thursday, October 16, 2008

Iruupi villagers suffer from 'poisoned' river

The plight of Iruupi villagers in Western province, regarding their Kura River, continues to worsen by the day as government officers in Daru continue to turn them a blind eye.

They now see their Governor Bob Danaya and South Fly MP Sali Subam as having neglected them in the face of something that now threatens their whole livelihood.

Mr Subam declined to comment yesterday (Thursday) when contacted until he had received a detailed report from his officers in Daru about dead aquatic and plant life along the Kura River.

He travelled to Daru yesterday and said he would be in a better position to comment on the matter after he was briefed by his officers.

“I have assisted the officers with logistical support to travel into the area,” Mr Subam said.

“However, I have not received the report from the testing team as yet.

“No comment until I get the report from them.”

However, Iruupi villager Thomas Ame, who travelled with government officers Frank Paliuous (health) and Stanley Jogo (fisheries) to Iruupi on Tuesday this week, said they merely skimmed the surface before returning to Daru instead of spending more time with the villagers.

He said they only interviewed two women who were returning from their garden and a man who had fallen sick after eating taro boiled with water from the Kura.

“The water is going from bad to worse and starting to affect all the people,” Mr Ame said from Daru.

“When you put your legs in the river, they start to itch and swell.

“All the food in the gardens beside the river is affected and there is no goodness in the food.

“The villagers are moving their gardens closer to the village.

“The villagers don’t have any food now and are only eating coconuts and sago.

“Children are hungry

“Those who can afford to, take fresh meat to Daru, sell it, and use the money to buy food from the shops and take back to Iruupi to feed their children.

“Villagers are also complaining about feeling sick after drinking water from the smaller creeks and are now only drinking rain water

Last month, the villagers raised concerns in a letter to Dr Danaya, Mr Subam, and the Departments of Petroleum and Energy and Environment and Conservation about the increasing number of dead fish being found in the Kura.

At the beginning of this month, after no response from relevant government authorities, the villagers again complained about dead fish and crocodiles, as well as birds, pigs, deer and wallaby.

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

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