by Bethanie Harriman – EM TV, Lorengau
People from around the islands and inland of the Manus Province have called on the Provincial Government to open the newly built Lorengau Market.
It comes as they share smaller markets with ward council areas in Lorengau town. The Lorengau Market was part of the Asylum Seeker agreement and the Australian Government has built it.
Much of the growth in Lorengau was going to be projected from spin off businesses from the Asylum seeker deal between Papua New Guinea and the Australian government.
For the rest of the local population, the completion of the Lorengau Market meant people from the surrounding Islands and the inland would have a point to participate in the local economy.
But its still closed to locals forcing those who travel far from the islands and inland to share markets with ward councils.
Mark Siwer from Lou Island in the Balopa LLG islands known for its rich garden produce, said the woman from his area take a three hour dinghy ride to sell fruits and vegetables in Lorengau.
“We have to sell all of this food at the Market so we can pay for our school fees (university tuition),” says Siwer.
Women sit under the sun selling fish, fruits and vegetables to make an income to buy salt and sugar from the shops.
It’s not just the Islands, moving inland Manus and also on the north coast of the province, women come to sell fish and they are complaining about sitting outside in the weather.
Jane Tony is from the Lele Bupi Chupeu LLG, and has been marketing fish at the Ward Four market for the last year, waiting for the new market.
“I have to market, it’s my life. So in the rain and sun, I sit and sell my fish,” Jane says.
But, there is an explanation from local authorities on the ground, Market Committee Deputy Chairman, Peter Nanukuo, explained that the market will remain closed until the month of June, because the contractor that built the market didn’t install electricity wires.
“The management team found out that there was no electricity wires installed in the market facilities,” Nanukuo says.
The Lorengau Market and the improvement of the Momote road are some of the projects part of the much debated Asylum seeker deal, between the Australian and Papua New Guinean government.
Lorengau market has already been built by the Australian government and opened recently by the High commissioner, Deborah Stokes.
After its opening, a committee headed by senior public servants found that wiring for electricity wasn’t installed by the contractor, delaying the usage of the market.
Meanwhile, for the majority of the Manus people, they have been stopped from using this vital economical focal point.