by Bethanie Harriman – EM TV, Lae
Eight days after families of ex-soldiers were evicted from Lae’s Igam Army barracks, some have moved into surrounding settlements.
Cathy has moved out of the camp area in front of the Igam Army Barracks gate because she has bought land from the Lae’s local Ahi landowners. She and her family were part of the group of 18 families evicted nearly nine days ago.
Cathy Korowa sleeps in a makeshift hut at her block of land that is fast becoming another settlement in Lae City.
Her grandchildren have symptoms of malaria and water is hard to find as the dry season approaches. She and her family have moved and continue to wait for her husband’s outstanding entitlements.
Her husband is in Port Moresby seeking his entitlements. Cathy says they have no plans of staying in the city and the family want to go back to their village.
Much of the blame cannot be levelled at the PNGDF hierarchy, as it is the government that provides funds for the pay out of the ex-soldiers.
But Cathy and her family aren’t the only ones waiting. Just next door to her, the family of Denis Kumabore, the veteran who spent over 45 years in the Defence Force, are doing it tough.
He has patched up a single tent for his daughter, husband and grandson to live in, whilst they wait for answers from the government and the PNGDF hierarchy.
“We are sleeping in a tent with a canvas on top,” says his daughter, Dorothy Kumabore.
It is understood that discharged soldiers and are given their entitled payments according to a military discharge manual; these families are amidst an on-going court battle between ex-soldiers and the PNGDF.