NIPG served petition following ethnic clash

Following the stabbing of their wantoks, the people of Lavongai have served a petition to the New Ireland Provincial Government, calling for the strict regulation of betelnut trade.

The petition was served yesterday (Sept 5) morning after an ethnic clash between the Sepiks and Lavongais at the Kavieng Market on September 4th.

Strict regulation of betelnut supply at the Kavieng market, the implementation of Small Craft Act, the implantation of the Vagrancy Act and immediate eviction and repatriation of the Pawa-Wosera community topped the 11-point petition.

The demands were accompanied by resolutions.

“Our resolutions, that the nominated points of entry be at the beach-front for betelnut transaction and that all betelnut vendors should not be permitted entry onto the boats and Small Craft Act be implemented to monitor and protect boat operators and passengers,” outlined Lavongai Community Leader, Simon Kongas.

The petition also captures the intention of the Lavongai people to establish dialogue with Sepik settlers immediately after September 5th.

The people of Lavongai said the incident demonstrated the lack of respect and violation of individuals and property rights.

“We strongly demand that that the residents of Wosera-Pawa Camp be evicted and repatriated and that the town authority and provincial government remove vagrant vendors,” added Kongas.

The Lavongais are demanding the Provincial Government adhere to the petition effective September 5th and are giving a month’s notice for action.

“In Ward 16 of Lavongai, the affected family is ready to seek revenge pending the outcome of the petition,” warned Kongas.

Business development plans and the need for proper jetties and beachfront development were also included in the petition.

According to a report filed to police, the fight began when a number of Sepik women, who were after betelnut, jumped onto a moving boat coming in from Lavongai.

Amidst the scuffle, and while trying to stop the women from intruding, a Lavongai man accidently touched the breast of a Sepik woman.

The woman then reported the incident to her husband who retaliated with other Sepik men, resulting in the injuring of the men from Lavongai, who had to be taken to hospital after suffering knife wounds.

(The villagers outside the provincial assembly yesterday)

Carolyn Ure