Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bulolo burns

FIGHTING in Bulolo township has escalated with more than 5,000 villagers taking part in the raid on Sepik settlers, The National reports.

The local villagers are walking the length and breadth of Bulolo, armed with guns, knives and bows and arrows in open defiance of the 30-odd policemen.

The town has virtually stopped operating with all banks, schools, shops and markets closed except for the Bulolo Hospital, which is operating with staff saying they were “scared stiff”.

Locals from Patep village and Mumeng local level government have been backed by their fellow Bulolo district locals from Buang, Watut, Waria and other parts of Morobe.

They razed five settlements yesterday to take to eight the number of settlements destroyed since Monday morning.

A policeman said there was not a house left standing after the group went on a rampage at the Karanas compound around noon yesterday.

The policeman alleged that the group comprised the Mumeng and Watut people.

“The Sepiks have fled for safety into the bushes and are afraid to emerge from their hiding places for fear of their lives,” he said. 

He said police were outnumbered and could not stop the locals in their attack.

“The situation is extremely volatile,” employees of PNG Forest Products said last night.

They and other workers had not gone to work since Monday.

On Monday, Cement Bridge, Maramba, and White House settlements were burnt down.

Yesterday, the Biwat, Tambunum, Kapriman, Aitape and Sangriwa settlements were also razed.

The situation had affected the operations of PNG Forest Products, Bank South Pacific, the post office, schools, health centre, the University of Technology Bulolo campus and retail outlets – forcing all to close.

All elementary, secondary and technical vocational centre classes had been suspended for an indefinite period, district education coordinator John Tjipert said.

Students at Baiune High School were dispatched home on Monday night. Some staff members, who were threatened, fled, the policeman said.

Grace Memorial Secondary School principal Ipisah Wanega assured parents that all the students and staff were kept safe in school with Wau police monitoring the gates.

Residents, not only in Bulolo but Wau as well, are now in short supply of food.

Traffic flow from Lae to Bulolo, Wau, the Hidden Valley mine site, Watut and Menyamya has been halted.

Fourteen Australian tourists on their way to Bulolo, to walk the Black Cat Track, had to cancel their trip due to the ethnic violence.

This had caused PNG Tourism Promotion Authority chief Peter Vincent to call on the national government and cabinet to quickly address the worsening law and order situation, not only in Bulolo but throughout the country.

Morobe provincial government stepped in and allocated K52, 000 to deploy police reinforcement from Mt Hagen to join mobile squad 13 from Lae.

Speaking on Radio Morobe yesterday, Governor Luther Wenge urged all parties involved in the clashes to stop and seek a peaceful means to the conflict.

Wenge said the government had foreseen the need for additional police in the area and the police mobile squad 15 set up base there in 2001, but complacency on the part of police had set in.

The more than 2,000 settlers, who are now using PNG Forest Products camp site as a care centre, are in need of food supplies.

The settlers have lost everything except the clothes on their backs. They have sought police protection and are being kept at the PNG Forest Product compound as locals try to penetrate the area.

A police mobile squad member said there had been a lot of casualties; however, he could not confirm the number or say if there had been any further deaths.

By last night, two casualties were flown by helicopter to the Angau Memorial Hospital in Lae.



  1. This is a Morobe crisis. Where is the top political leadership?! This also zooms down on the top administrative leadership of the Province. Can you see and feel the frustration the Morobeans have for so time now?

    Rise up to the challenge and restore the confidence and the respect of your own people Morobeans (they are generally peace loving, tolerating).

    Settlements are a problem! If Bulolo cannot be handled, Lae may be facing something similar if nothing is done to ease the ethnic tensions all around.

    This is all about mediation, negotiation and conflict resolution. Money, police and empty promises will not solve this.

    Bapa Bomoteng

  2. While I do not condone the violence in Bulolo, illegal alien settlers must now take the cue and start respecting landowners and the state.The way the law and order problem is in Lae, and given the lack of respect by settlers, I wouldn't be surprised if Morobeans start taking arms against settlers a'la Bulolo! This is food for thought, and I'm not preempting anything!If you're from a rural area and have wantoks living in a settlement in town, and being a pain on everybody, tell them to go home!

  3. Anonymous9:41 PM

    After the killing of the Watut leader some months ago, MP Sam Basil called on the settlers in Bulolo to respect the locals of Bulolo and Wau. The events of the past days proved that this call was not heeded.

    What poured out this week has been boiling for some time.

  4. Ngalye7:54 AM

    Can the government come up with policies to do away with settlemnts in towns and cities.
    I believe these settlers are the main cause of many increasing crime rates in PNGs towns and cities.
    The settlers should try and respect the landowners.
    This is exactly what happend in Mt Hagen a year ago, the incident between the Hageners and the Engans.

  5. Anonymous1:09 PM

    I feel for my wantoks who have been dispalaced by the current crisis in Bulolo.

    Having said that,all settlers for that matter,must learn to respect the "asples" people where ever they settle.


  6. Anonymous7:59 PM

    Sepiks Are The Pioneers of Bulolo

    The call by the Bulolo District Stretim Sindaun spokesmen Jack Issac & Patrick Bendum as reported in both dailies on the 21st June, 2010 certainly has undertones of a terrorist movement.
    It is little wonder the government has not taken positive steps to contain the terrorist activities of Jack Issac and Patrick Bendum as it is alleged that the local MP and the Bulolo PSC support their activities. This is quite evident as there is evidence that these men were seen within the proximity of the raiding warriors’ camps on the Sunday leading up to the burning down of the Sepik settlements on the Monday & Tuesday following.
    The BDSS also must be specific in the number of deaths attributed to the Sepiks and specify circumstances leading up to these deaths. They cannot simply juggle the numbers around to justify their burning down of the Sepik settlements. This is simply and act of terror which the national government must step in and quash.

    The Sepiks of Bulolo are no ordinary settlers. Their great grandfathers, grandfathers and fathers were the pioneers of Bulolo, coming in with the 1st “white men” in the Bulolo valley. Their existence in the valley is deeply rooted and cannot simply be ignored. The Sepiks will seek every legal avenue to fight for their democratic right of existence in Bulolo. The threat by leaders of the Bulolo District Stretim Sindaun association will not be taken lightly by the Sepiks. During the burning down of their settlements the Sepiks simply withdrew considering the safety of their women and children and their “lapuns”. They were also taken by surprise. Mr Jack Isacc should consider this very carefully before making any threats which could provoke the Sepiks in Bulolo and other parts of PNG. They are not going to simply sit back anymore.

    Bulolo Broughtup