PNG’s Gerehu became a ‘ghost town in the blink of an eye’ after riot

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The charred ruins of Gerehu's central shopping district
The charred ruins of Gerehu's central shopping district . . . now a ghost town after last week's Black Wednesday rioting in the capital of Port Moresby. Image: PNG Post-Courier

PNG Post-Courier

Gerehu, the sprawling suburban township to the north of Papua New Guinea’s capital Port Moresby, is now a “ghost town” for shoppers.

All major shops in the central business district in the city’s biggest suburb — Papindo, Gmart, Total Energy service station, Desh Besh Motors, Pharmacy, Supermarket and the bakery which serve a population of more than 50,000 — was set on fire by looters on last week’s “Black Wednesday” riot.

There is nothing left of the shops but debris and charred remains of buildings.

Many residents have expressed remorse that there is nothing left.

“Gerehu is now a ghost town,” said one emotional resident.

“We have nothing here anymore and the shops we grew up with are gone.

“Gone just like that at the blink of an eye.

‘I grew up here’
“I grew up here, this is my home.

“Oh my heart breaks.”

The busiest bus stop in the city was empty with no vendors in sight.

The main market was left with only a few food items and vendors.

One could guess mothers were chased out of the market as well while doing their usual marketing.

Only the thin smoke coming out from the walls and outside of the sheds was noticeable when the PNG Post-Courier visited the area at the weekend.

Gerehu General Hospital security supervisor Topo Dambe said the burning of buildings affected their area where they had received several casualties and the hospital was busy throughout the day.

“But when they set fire to the shops, the hospital staff and the lives of the people and properties were at risk and we were left to protect them and the hospital,” Dambe said.

“We had to close the gates allowing only emergencies.”

Republished with permission.

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