by Edwin Fidelis – EM TV News, Kokopo
The West New Britain Disaster office has raised concerns on new challenges aligned with the ‘soon to be opened’ New Britain Highway.
The highway is expected to draw in more people to live within the danger zones of Mt. Ulavun Volcano.
The New Britain highway runs parallel to the volcano and with the expansion of oil palm; people have already occupied the red zones.
When Mt. Ulawun volcano in West New Britain province erupted in 1980, it devastated an area of up to 20 square kilometres.
Today it remained quiet, but one of the active volcanoes in New Britain.
In the last 10 years, the development of oil palm and its expansion has spurred a large influx of people into the area, to live and work in the oil palm fields.
In a joint boarder talks forum between the East and West New Britain provincial administration in Kokopo yesterday. Possible eruption and emergency response plan for Mt. Ulavun have received recognition.
The provincial disaster office in East and West New Britain are working together to revive an out-dated emergency response plan.
The plan will include emergency evacuation strategies and possible care centre sites.
A section of the New Britain highway runs alongside Mt. Ulawun volcano in the Ulamona area.
The disaster office in the two provinces have raised concerns on the new lot of challenges that highway will bring.
And amongst them, more people coming into the area means more land will be needed to cater to this influx.
East New Britain has offered assistance with its experiences of the 1994 eruptions of Mt. Tavurvur and Vulcan that buried the town of Rabaul.
A joint emergency response plan will be drawn up by the two provinces to cater for disaster refugees in an event of an eruption in the future.