The eight women used brute force to break open a welded gate for Manolos to access its fuel depot and smoothly conduct its operations.
The situation arose when the Morobe Sustainable Investment Ltd, a provincial government business arm, locked their main gate and welded the depot gate shut early this week over claims of rental arrears.
Fuel trucks and the Manolos ambulance drive into the MSIL premises to access the depot gate.
The Huon Gulf District Council of Women president, Debbie Kais, said on Monday, November 16th, they received word that a woman from Wafi mining was suffering birth complications. After the chopper airlifted her to the Manolos hangar, MSIL allegedly locked the gate behind the exiting ambulance.
“Tuesday mipla harim wanpla stori gen olsem disla mama em i pilim pen long Teptep. Chopa wok lo traim best lo go kisim em, tasol i nogat hap lo go kisim fuel bikos ol blokim pinis get we kar bai kam insait wantem fuel na rifilim chopa,” said Kais. (On Tuesday we heard another story that a mother was in pain at Teptep. The chopper was unable to get fuel as the access gate was blocked already.)
On Wednesday, November 18th, the group of women met with the Morobe Provincial Administrator to query the blockade. Kais said they were informed of a court order, where they requested to see it themselves.
“PA said they would call the lawyer of (MSIL managing director) Elizabeth Bradshaw to send a copy. However, the PA called us in the afternoon and told us that the lawyer said we were third parties hence we cannot see that court order.
“Whilst we were looking for ways to open that gate, we received word that there was no court order. And on top of that, we heard that the mother at Teptep was in bad shape as her baby had died in her womb.
“So on Thursday we continued looking for ways to bring the mother here but to no avail. On Friday morning, we had no choice but to break open the gate.”
On Friday November 20th, Captain Jurgen Ruh headed in the direction of the remote Teptep, at the border of Morobe and Madang. He refueled at the Nadzab Airport then continued to Teptep to medivac the woman.
“Taim chopa ya flai go daun lo Teptep, mipla ol mama sanap lo geit na mipla brukim disla geit,” said Kais. “Mipla nonap lo brukim nating. Long neim blo disla meri nau em wok lo pilim pen, na karai na singaut lo Teptep, lo neim blo em mipla brukim disla geit.” (When the chopper flew to Teptep, we stood at the gate and broke it. We wouldn’t have done this if it weren’t for that mother at Teptep who is in pain and crying.)
For the group of women leaders, it is not about money or politics. Kais said all they want is for vital services to reach women in the nine districts of Morobe Province. And since basic health services are lacking there, the best option is to allow Manolos Aviation to bring the women to Lae.
After the Teptep medivac, the women, who referred to themselves as ‘mama Morobe’, stayed on to make sure the second Bulolo medivac went smoothly.
Captain Jurgen Ruh said they managed to save two more lives that day.
“The back gate is open, my fuel has arrived… and this was a critical flight because the flight from Bulolo was foetal distress,” he explained. “The mother was in childbirth, couldn’t deliver and the child’s heartbeat went very high. And after a child’s heartbeat goes very high, next thing comes is very low. So time was of the essence and luckily, our problem was resolved.”
(Some of the ‘mama Morobe’ watching the Manolos staff transfer the Bulolo mother from a stretcher to the waiting ambulance)