by Meleasie Goviro EM TV News, Port Moresby
Staff of the Laloki Psychiatric Hospital yesterday began a sit-in protest because of the shortage of healthy water supply to the facility.
The problem has in fact been going on for the last 15 years, and has recently worsened.
Now with the El Nino weather pattern taking its toll on the Laloki community’s supply of water, it has reached a point where even the compromises they have had to make in relying on other sources of water are not enough to keep the facility operational.
They said they’ve had to walk close to 500 metres every day to fetch large containers of water that is safe for patients to consume from a tap that supplies water from Eda Ranu.
Although they also rely on the supply of bore water to the facility, it is not reliable.
One of the two bore water pumps is now out of order.
At times they’ve had to wait for up to a day for bore water to fill up for it to be distributed to the hospital and residential houses.
Following the corrosion of pipelines in the facility, as well as in staff houses, tests were conducted proving that the water was not safe for human consumption due to high levels of calcium in the water.
Rema said it costs around K20,000 per month to order salts needed to neutralise pure bore water.
They had opted to switch to water cart supplies but that has cost them considerably more.
To fill all seven tanks in the facility, they paid K45,000 for the three truckloads they require every week.
With the funds they are allocated by the government, K8 million this year, over half goes to staff salaries/wages and the rest is distributed to the running cost of the facility and staff residential areas.
They have been taking cuts from the latter to pay for the alternative water supplies while the infrastructure continues to deteriorate due to lack of maintenance.
They’ve had to send home a good number of patients leaving only 24 patients under care.
At the moment they are not accepting any more admissions and may be forced to close down if this problem persists, and nothing is done to resolve it.