By Annette Kora – EMTV News, Port Moresby
For most islanders who live away from their provincial mainland, their only means of transportation is via a ship or a boat.
Unlike most, North Bougainvillians, and especially people of the Atoll islands; their only route or access into mainland Buka is across the open sea.
However, they have been without a ship, let alone regular shipping services, for almost 20 years.
The need for shipping services in the North Bougainville Atolls and surrounding islands is imperative as it remains the biggest challenge on the education, health and livelihood of the people.
Among these is the lack of a communication network, the effect of urban drift, and the detrimental effect of climate change on the islands.
Bougainville Atolls Association President, Sione Paasia and other elites of the association after much attempts of getting in touch with the member of North Bougainville, expressed their people’s concerns saying many have passed on due to the lack of sufficient and basic health care on the island. Students are missing school and are being turned away because they turn up late for enrolment on mainland Buka.
For the Atolls, the daily cost of travel to and from the mainland is K200 per head for three days of travel; a day or two for the closer islands and most have to cross deep waters on banana boats. Many losing lives along the way too.
The people’s cry of struggle has fallen on deaf ears and the association, on behalf of the people, is appealing to their member of Parliament and both the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and the PNG government for immediate intervention to ensure services reach the people of the islands.