16 Feb 2012

Reports of pressure in aftermath of PNG landslide disaster

3:36 pm on 16 February 2012

There are claims that officials in Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands have been pressuring locals over the need to clear the main road in Tumbi after last month's landslide.

Disaster response workers this week began clearing the huge area of debris left by the landslide which buried at least 25 people.

However, local landowners have reportedly blocked access to the site several times, due to their demands for compensation and an independent probe into the disaster.

A Hela landowner Joseph Warai claims that government and disaster officials, as well as police and military, told locals that the five million US dollars in disaster response funding promised by the government was conditional on the road being cleared:

"There was a certain level of intimidation or they said that if you really want to get that ten million kina that the Prime Minister has promised, then you better let us do the roads, and if you clear the roads then ten million kina may come direct to you."

Joseph Warai