By HELEN TARAWA
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has announced a two-month extension of the State of Emergency in the provinces affected by February’s earthquake.
O’Neill tabled in Parliament yesterday a report by the Permanent Committee on Emergency which had recommended the extension.
“As a result of acceptance of the report, we have now extended the State of Emergency by two months as of today (yesterday),” he said.
“The Government is making headway in the relief effort with most affected villages reached and more remote sites addressed.
“Despite all of the obstacles, it is fair to say that the relief exercise is proving to be a success. But there are many areas where improvement is needed.
“The earthquake has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
“Our government will continue to work with all partners to overcome the effects of the disaster and restore lives and communities.”
The committee members are chairman Kobby Bomareo (Tewai-Siasi), Robert Naguri (Bogia), Thomas Pelika (Menyamya), Willian Nakin (North Bougainville) and Johnny Alonk (Middle Ramu).
O’Neill thanked them for their hard work “in making sure that these reports are being tabled on a timely manner”.
“Their visits to the affected provinces and talking to the people is commendable. To see new members of parliament in the committee on emergency taking this role efficiently and with enthusiasm gives me a great satisfaction,” he said.
He said 160 people were known to have died and thousands displaced.
“The exact number of fatalities will not be known.”
NEC approved the establishment of the emergency disaster restoration team to manage the response and recovery with a budget of K150 million.
The earthquake on Feb 26 hit Southern Highlands, Hela, Enga and Western.