by Bethanie Harriman – EM TV, Lae
Families of evicted ex-servicemen are camped in makeshift tents outside the front gate of the Igam Army Barracks.
The families do not only consist of wives and children; grandchildren also sleep in the open. The ex-soldiers say they need financial help to get home to their villages. Most of the soldiers have grown old and are ill but have been evicted from the barracks.
Denis Kumabore has been with the PNG Defence Force since 1966. When Papua New Guinea was on its way to independence, recruitment began and he was brought by the Australian Army from East Sepik to be trained to serve in the PNG Defence Force.
Today, he and his family were evicted while he was waiting for entitlements owed to him after he retired about fifteen years ago. Some soldiers have died, leaving their widows to continue the wait for their pay out. They too have been evicted with all their family members.
The problem with soldier entitlements has become a recurring issue within the PNGDF. The military hierarchy has said in previous years that funding problems have delayed payments. But years continue to pile up as the army plans to increase its size and the need for housing increases.