The Malaysian companies involved must be held accountable for their absolute abuse of the rights of traditional land owners’. They should also be prosecuted for their lack of attention to the rights of workers to be supplied with the necessary training and safety equipment.
All of the Papua New Guinea members of parliament, past and present, should be very ashamed at the lack of concern for the people of Sandaun Province and their previously pristine rainforest. Immediate action to rectify the wrongs of past and present should be a priority, even if it means selling the overseas investments to help out.
Similarly Vanimo police, Army based in Vanimo, forestry officers and other government officers who are in bed with the Malaysians need to be held accountable. They are there just for the money with no regard for the people they should be protecting. The video Bigpela Bagarup clearly demonstrates the truth of this.
The Malaysians provide no training for chainsaw operators, nor any safety equipment. The workers should be supplied with steel capped boots, protective chaps, safety glasses and helmets. They should be trained on the correct method of safely cutting down a tall tree.
Firstly a wedge should be cut out of the tree, this will determine the direction of fall. Then, on the other side of the tree, a cut should be made angling down towards the space left empty by the removal of the wedge. A line of holding wood then supports the tree while the saw is removed.
At that point a steel wedge can be forced into the cut and this will cause the tree’s fall to be fully controlled. The statement by the forestry officer that all chain saw operators are trained and registered is an outright lie.
Similarly all workers should be supplied with appropriate safety gear. Even the bulldozer driver has no gear. This is criminal and shows how the Malaysians regard Papua New Guinean workers as having no rights whatsoever.
Then there is the complete disregard for the welfare of workers – who are paid so little that the machinery operators have to send their wives to sleep with the Malaysian bosses just to make enough money to survive.
The complete disregard for the welfare of the villagers is further demonstrated by the lack of adequate health resources, educational opportunities, water supplies and proper housing.
As for the future, there is none. Once the forests have been fully raped of the timber, there will be nothing left; no future for the communities who own this land.
One can only assume that, since the work camps are at Amanab, the forests north around Bewani have already been completely destroyed.
Having worked for two years with the wonderful people of Pagei which I believe is now called Bewani and experienced the beauty of the rainforests and admired the way the people valued these, my heart bleeds for them knowing it has all been destroyed with absolutely no benefit to my friends at Pagei and surrounds.
Shame, too, on those businesses such as Bunnings for willingly trading with Malaysia to purchase the timber which has been wrongfully harvested in Sandaun Province.
How can anyone sleep easily at night knowing what is happening to the people of Sandaun. I can’t.