According to the Porgera Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the multi-billion-kina Porgera gold mine needs to open soon. The head of the Chamber, Nickson Pakea, said the mine, which is in Enga, must reopen to promote economic activity and reduce criminality in the region.

Pakea said, “The law and order issues in the district is partially due to the shutdown of the mine and those with access to guns taking advantage to conduct illegal mining activities as well as stir up trouble.”

The district has recently seen a rise in tribal conflict, he added. However, when Papua New Guinea Defence Force soldiers and police arrived, the fighting stopped. Pakea claimed that the Porgera mine’s closure had contributed to the area’s lawlessness.

“People with guns from other districts and provinces are taking advantage of the mine shut down and them trespassing the mine for illegal mining,” he said.

“Apart from this, they also lease it (guns) for tribal fights, causing more destruction properties and innocent lives. The Government must intervene and stop this once and for all, not just provide security.

“We want the Government to declare gun amnesty or gun surrender and collect all the guns. We want the mine to fire up soon.

“The longer it remains idle, the opportunities will increase for chaos. We also call on residents to support the security personnel to eradicate lawlessness once and for all by providing vital information,” Pakea said.

“Fighting has stopped, but schools are still closed in fear of retaliation. The principal of Porgera Secondary School has said that classes will resume on Monday.”