July 17, 1998, marked 21 years since destructive tsunami waves crossed the shoreline on the Sissano lagoon, killing 3,500 people and displacing 10,000 others.
People from the villages of Sissano, Warapu, Arop, Malol and Aitape and Vanimo gathered to remember those who perished and the survivors of the natural disaster.
Leader of the Opposition and Member for Aitape-Lumi, Patrick Pruaitch, and the Governor for Sandaun Tony Wouwou, joined the people to remember those who were killed and pledged to continue to support all restoration programs of the area.
Survivors of the disaster also spoke of the slow and incomplete restoration and rehabilitation.
The people thanked all who assisted during the disaster but said the agreed rehabilitation and restoration came to a standstill after that and they have sustained themselves to survive post disaster response.
Pruaitch thanked the so many public servants from the area who have retired and are assisting the people of Sissano to be more self-reliant, as assistance from government had been delayed for too long.
He said Governor Tony Wouwou and himself will fund a monument with the names of all those who perished in 1998 so it will remind all of us of what happened and will also serve as a warning for future disasters.
Pruaitch said he will launch a K1 million project of providing roofing iron next month in Arop village so that by next year, all families in Aitape East and West Coast will be living under corrugated housing.
He also briefed the people on the current political and economic situation that is making it difficult for funds to flow to the people.
(The gathering at Warapu village)