By RIGGO NANGAN
MORE than 400 Sepiks, employed by the PNG Forest Products (PNGFP) in Bulolo, Morobe, have resigned en masse out of fear for their lives, The National reports.
Other Sepiks working in the local bank, post office and schools and the nearby mine are also expected to leave, causing losses to companies and affecting government services.
Locals from Bulolo in Morobe, armed with bush knives, axes, bows and arrows, with a placard calling for the complete removal of Sepiks from the township yesterday. Tension is still high in the area.
The 400 Sepiks at PNGFP have submitted their names to their workers union president, Moses Tikiong, and general secretary Albert Kaklep to take the matter up with the management for payout.
The Sepiks gathered at the
yesterday at noon
while their leaders met with district authorities to discuss their future. Huxley Street Play
Kaklep later met with
Sepik leader Nelson Bito and relayed the
message to the people.
The fate of 12 others employed by Morobe Mining Joint Ventures is not clear yesterday.
Some of the 12 have been living with their families at the care centres while others lost their homes in the recent unrest.
The employees of PNGFP made it clear to the company management their decision to leave was due to the current unrest and the threats to the lives of their families and themselves.
District administrator Nimsen Kibisep travelled to
yesterday to take the matter up with
government secretary Manasupe Zurenuoc. Port
He would also seek funds for the repatriation exercise.
Bito said three venues for their temporary resettlement were discussed – the Lae show grounds, Wawin in the
or a venue to be
identified by the Lutheran church. Markham
Kibisep predicted a decline in government services in the district if the entire
community were to leave.
Bank South Pacific relieving branch manageress Linda Maron said eight employees at the bank were Sepiks and they were also affected.
The bank’s acting Momase chief security officer, Igag Woktamoi, closed the bank for an indefinite period as of yesterday.
BSP is the only bank in Bulolo and its customers will now have to travel to Lae to do their banking.
Post PNG branch manager Duna Mara said yesterday they would soon shut operations.
Meanwhile, locals yesterday said they were happy to see the Sepiks go but the government must ensure the repatriation was definite.
“We will stay here until they leave because the authorities did not play their part which led to another unrest,” the locals said.