The Ombudsman Commission in compliance with its purpose under Section 218(a) of the Constitution is urging all State Entities to maintain reliable services to the people of Papua New Guinea during the 14 day lockdown period called by the National Government to contain the spread of the Coronavirus or COVID-19.
In a statement released early this week, the OC listed a number of essential services that should be provided to the country on a 24 hour basis, seven days a week, during the State of Emergency.
These State entities include:
– PNG Power to provide uninterrupted power service to the people
– Water PNG and Eda Ranu to maintain uninterrupted water supply
– Telecommunication providers Telikom and Bemobile to maintain reliable telecommunication lines
– Police to maintain Law and Order
– Defence force to carryout effective security measures
– Health department to maintain and ensure health services and emergency contacts are in place and functioning and
– ICCC to ensure prices of goods and services are not increased unnecessarily
“It is your statutory obligation to provide and maintain these essential services at this crucial period; you are required to provide and maintain these required services if it means going the extra length.” Said Acting Chief Ombudsman, Richard Pagen.
Whilst urging these state entities to maintain their services, the Ombudsman Commission strongly urged the Government to ensure funding for these front line state entities includes the necessary risk and overtime allowance for their staff.
A day after the statement was released; there was a public outcry on social media over a hike in the price of goods in shops, disruptions in power supply and water shortages. Water supplies in settlements were also cut off, while some citizens claimed they had gone 24 hours without electricity.
Police Minister, Bryan Kramer, in a media conference yesterday, responded saying, the disruptions in power and water are likely to take place as the water level up at Sirinumu dam stands at 40 percent, prompting rationing measures in place.
“The problem with that is, our dams that supply power that rely on hydro are at 40 percent; if we just open up all the taps, 40 percent will drop and we’ll have power problems.”
“So we’re looking at forming teams within communities to manage the water and if they abuse it, then basically police will go in and shut it down.”
Kramer also urged NCD residents to preserve water during this time.
“If we don’t get rain and water keeps being used and abused then we’re going to have a problem with power because PNG Power relies on that water through hydro.”
By Helen Sea – EMTV News – Port Moresby