by Edwin Fidelis – EM TV, Lae
Lae has become synonymous with fire.
A little over 11 months, and Lae city has experienced 13 different fire incidents so far.
This has prompted Morobe Governor Kelly Naru to call for an immediate response to address fire as a serious problem. The Morobe Governor, in an interview today, said with Lae becoming Papua New Guinea’s economic hub, it needs a proper emergency service.
“The political wheel is there; commitment on funding is there; the problem is with the management,” Naru said. While all eyes are on the government to fix this age-old issue, the public still remained skeptical about the emergency services in the country.
Businesses have lost assets worth over several millions. The recent one was two weeks ago when a teenage boy was killed during an inferno.
Another fire in Mt Hagen fire two weeks ago burnt down seven shops. This has again brought the ability of PNG’s fire services into question. Public confidence in PNG’s emergency services has dipped in recent years.
Questions on the state of PNG’s fires service were put to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, who was in Lae last week. “We are talking to the line department that is responsible for fire services to upgrade the facility. Like everything else, it has collapsed,” the Prime Minister said.
While the government promises to rebuild this hailing public service in towns and cities all over the country, many say it may not happen so soon.
Those who are working with the emergency services say they are ill-equipped. Many of the equipment, such as fire trucks, haven’t been replaced for over 20 years.