Thursday, November 24, 2011

Treacherous crossing

Source; The National, November 24 2011

DRESSED in red striped shirt, tucked in blue Levis denim jeans with brown leather dress shoes protecting his Erave nurtured feet, he cut out a city figure, found in high places in Port Moresby.
This was emphasised with a dark spectacle, perched on his forehead with the handles embracing two ears, on the edges of a neatly trimmed hair dressed over a round head.
Nason Yawake comes from Imane village, Aiya Local Level Government area in the Kagua district, Southern Highlands Province. Yawake is a heavy equipment fitter at Lihir Gold mine and on his recent break, he helped take a dead relative home. Yesterday, he came to the Post-Courier to extend the cry of his people, who have been denied better services since Independence.
People from the same area like Yawake take the plane from Port Moresby to Mt Hagen and travel by road to Kagua. An agonising three hours walk to Imane awaits to test your city tickled feet and pot bellied frame. It is a very long tough walk through tough terrain and the fast flowing icy Erave River, that claimed many pigs, destroyed coffee and food gardens and even claimed many lives as it meanders and flow past many villages in this part of the country.
VILLAGERS cross the mighty Erave three times at different sections but their only source of linkage, the three foot bridges, to the warmth of their homes have been disjointed and the arch mesh net wire structures have been damaged by the tough weather and different weights they have supported.
When transporting his dead relative over these three footbridges, Yawake was hit with emotion at how his people have to risk their lives to get home or access services. These three bridges were built by the people and have been there for over 36 years. He brought the cries of his people calling on Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and in his own words, ‘PM O’Neill, you are from Pangia, please feel sorry for the last Kewapi people’. Yawake appealed to the PM to look into the plight of his people, who need three decent, safe and secure new footbridges.
He looked me in the eye and smiled and as we parted, a firm handshake, stronger than the three faltered footbridges over the Erave River, indicated that at least he brought the cry of his people to Port Moresby. Outside the midday Konedobu heat, he said he was glad he had conveyed the hearts’ cry of his people.

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