After writing about the state of Kerema Town this morning, I went up to the Government Building where a K5 million plus Provincial and LLG supply budget was passed for 2021’s first quarter.
Hearing the speeches, I felt that there was hope, these were leaders passing the budget for their people come 2021, discussing what could be done to help the people, to build the Province.
But my hope turned to despair as I walked down to the Kerema Police Station and right before you walk into the police station just on your right hand side is the holding cell and it was the most sickening sight!
About 12 young men held at the Kerema Police Station holding cell were standing in human waste, in front of the detoriating shelter.
Just on the far right hand corner inside the holding cell area was an open pit toilet, so full, you can actually see wasting spilling out from it.
One of the detainees told me, “Susa, mipla sa sleep, kirap, Kaikai na stap osem.”
Detainees and remands at the Kerema Town police station holding cell are forced to live in very unhygenic conditions with raw sewerage running through the cells from a full open toilet pit just next to the cells.
But Police have no choice but to keep using it to hold Detainees and Remands as there is no Correctional Service Institute or Prison in the Province.
Kerema Police Station Commander Snr Insp. Michael Pakyei said that the holding cells have become completely “useless” but he has no choice but to keep using it to hold detainees and remands.
Pakyei said that he has raised this concern so many times since he first became the Police Station Commander in 2015 but to date, nothing has been done.
He also said that most times only serious crimes like murder cases were transported to the Port Moresby Bomana Prison.
“It’s a big burden transporting them to Port Moresby but we have no choice in the matter as Gulf Province does not have a Correctional Service Institute and or Prison.”
It is such a shame, that despite being just six hours away from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea’s capital city, the police station and the holding cells are detoriating and calls for help are falling on deaf ears.
The Local MP Richard Mendani cannot be reached for comments, nor the Town Mayor Jack Lari.
And right infront of the police station is the market in the town’s rugby feild oval. Piles of rubbish just laying there in two heaps in the middle of the feild as mothers sell their fish and garden food.
Little shanties scattered across the road, selling goods at inflated costs, just on the left of the feild market.
I look at their faces, but they are not my people. Yet, they come into our town and build shanties right on the main road in the heart of Kerema Town to sell cheap merchandise at inflated prices.
Walking down to catch a dinghy back to my island home, the site is still a sore eye.
Outsiders lined up on the shores, aggressive and demanding, waiting for locals to bring in betelnuts.
On my way home, seated next to me, a mother tells of how her and her husband were turned away from The Kerema General Hospital.
It seems, only the serious cases will be attended to. I do not want to ask why for I fear, the answer will only make me more depressed.
I do not know her, nor does she know me, but listening to her telling her freind that they were turned away, I am angry! Angry at my people for their continuous tolerance, angry at myself for failing to tell their stories and angry with the Authorities who continue to turn a blind eye to it all.
Forty five years on and this is Kerema, this is Gulf.
*Rebecca Kuku is from Uaripi, Gulf Province. She is a content contributor for the Gauardian (Australia) and the Post Courier