A prolonged political and legal battle has made victims of informal vendors in Wabag town.
So far, 5 deaths have been recorded by the local police; a reason justified enough for them to forcefully and successfully remove the vendors along the highway.
Town authorities are now calling on the politicians to set aside their differences, and allow the people to have access to the market, and other projects, which have been on hold since 2012.
The incomplete Wabag market is located in a strategic spot. It is within the town area, and along the highway between Mount Hagen to Porgera.
Customers include public servants in Wabag and other districts in the Enga Province, including Porgera Joint Venture staff.
On sale are fresh vegetables and imported goods, all at affordable prices.
Construction began in 2011. K10 million is said to be allocated to the market project. It has been closed since 2012, due to a restraining order put in place by the former MP, Sam Abal.
The market, amongst other projects, was developed by Wabag Rural Holdings, a company owned by Wabag, Maramuni and Wabag Urban councils.
Just last week, the vendors were forcefully removed by the local police. So far, 5 deaths have been recorded.
Police Station Commander Inspector, Epenes Nili, said this is for the safety of the vendors, public and motorists.
Currently, a major cleanup operation is on in the Enga Province with the assistance of police and army personnel from Port Moresby, who are on a 3 months call out in Porgera.
The station commander said his team has been tasked to clean up Wabag town and the market is one of them. However, just days after the eviction exercise, the people returned to sell their goods along the highway.
They said they have been left with no choice but to continue selling their produce to feed and clothe themselves, and their families. The people have tried at several occasions to enter the market after the eviction exercise.
They have no other place to sell their produce. For now, it is a cat and mouse game for the vendors and the local police.
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