It is believed that the historical shade trees were chopped down to make way for power lines.
Among those who have raised their voices against the ‘outrageous’ exercise was the Rabaul Historical Society secretary, Susan McGrade.
A frustrated McGrade told Loop PNG that those shade trees ‘survived many, many eruptions’.
“There is absolutely no reason to remove the trees altogether,” she said.
“After many years of volcanic eruptions, residents were proud to see Rabaul blooming again, only to be kicked in the teeth by the decision carried out by their very own Town Management!”
McGrade, who is also the Rabaul community and business association chairwoman, said those power lines were ABC lines, designed to handle volcanic ash fall and were able to go through trees.
The Town Management should have carried out regular pruning of the trees, she stated.
On the other hand, Rabaul Town manager, Victor Vutliu, explained that when those trees were planted, the road and the power lines were not considered.
“PNG Power asked to remove the big trees,” he told Loop PNG.
Vutliu also stated that instead of growing down, the trees’ roots grew under the sealed surface and pushed back up. This affected the road infrastructure.
Apart from that, the town manager said the removal of the raintrees will see a reduction in petty crimes, school fights, selling of drugs and drinking of homebrew.
“Someone can sit there all day and study the business community go in and out of the bank, or gather to drink homebrew and cause nuisance.”
He said smaller trees with smaller root systems will be replanted, preferably the palm tree.
(Top picture: The trees before being chopped down)