9 Nov 2011

PNG's Lae schools remain closed following riots

7:37 pm on 9 November 2011

Schools in the Papua New Guinea city of Lae remain closed following rioting that killed at least nine people and has left hundreds homeless.

Violent clashes which involved local youths and squatters from Highlands areas were finally brought under control by police at the weekend after two days of riots.

They erupted last Thursday after youths unsuccessfully sought to present a petition to the Morobe provincial governor calling for efforts to tackle lawlessness and the level of sexual assault on women.

Our correspondent in Lae says although things have settled down, tension is still high in the country's second biggest city.

Oseah Philemon says many students rely on public transport to get to school but bus drivers whose vehicles were stoned during the violence are too afraid to return to work.

"So with the buses not operating it is not possible for the kids to go to school and so the provincial education board has decided to suspend all calsses in all schools - that's about 30 schools put together - until such time as normal life returns to Lae."

Oseah Philemon says the suspension of classes may be affecting up to 10-thousand students.