Currently we are locked in in our camp. The reason is that we refused to transfer the body of the young man that died on our helicopter to the village where he is to be buried. (The body doesn't fit and is badly decomposing by now). It's a bit of a Mexican stand off we'll see how it develops.
Friday, December 31, 2004
The tension is easing we have agreed to helicopter in some cement and plywood to assist with the burial arrangements and the body is currently being moved out of the compound and will be driven to the nearest road head for the village from where it will be carried down. As an aside our work force is refusing to go back to work until the funeral has taken place as they are worried about being attacked if they start work any earlier. We can however move freely in and out of our compound again.
Dave who co-ordinates our helicopters as well as the bush cutting crews in the field got a radio call from one of his supervisors saying "I need a helicopter NOW!". Luckily he reacted quickly and diverted a machine that was in the air already and in the nick of time rescued a man shaking as a leaf from a crowd of axe wielding marauders. Turned out the guys sister had killed somebody in a car accident and this was to be a payback killing. Now how am I going to explain that in the monthly report?
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
An ambulance just turned up in the compound with the body of one of the young man that worked in the workshop here. He was taken to hospital in Mendi with Malaria on Monday and passed away there last night. Now the body is brought back here and currently carried around his place of work so his spirit can return to it. There are several hundred people both inside and outside the fence wailing and crying and as it's pitch black here with the exception of our office it's rather spooky. From here the body will be taken to the house cry for a funeral some time tomorrow
Saturday, December 11, 2004
Just to show that not all are dramas are caused by our personnel or the people that live around us here is a summary of the disasters that have befallen us over the last few days.
- On Thursday afternoon it became clear that nobody in the Brisbane office that is supposed to coordinate all projects had realised that if one job runs late and the other starts early you will end up having to accommodate a great more people in your camps then previously planned. Needles to say there is no room in the inn for all the new starters so on my insistence a call was placed to the project manager who was most indignant that I queried him on his lack of planning. Funnily enough in another call later that evening he agreed to an emergency mobilisation of extra resources in an attempt to build a 160 men camp by the end of January. As our camp at 5/7 has been three months in the making and is still not finished I would say fat change.
- Also on Thursday. We were supposed to use the Chinook to lift five loads of approximately seven to eight tons each from Moro to South East Mananda. The first three loads went fine but then the weather closed in. I can understand that no one wants to fly in the mountains with a heavy load dangling two hundred feet under the helicopter when you can't see where you are going so the operation closed down with half an excavator sitting on the airstrip and the other half in the middle of the jungle. A few hours later the weather cleared enough to have another attempt. The chopper went up the load was hooked on and then the governor on the engine failed and over speeded. They were pretty lucky that the load was still on the ground and they managed to land safely. As it was the mechanics spent most of the night working on it, Friday morning we had glorious weather, the Chinook work perfectly and we lifted our last two loads in. I slept pretty badly that night though.
- Friday afternoon four o'clock my computer dies as do the office lights and all things electrical in general. The generator has shutdown for reasons unknown. No panic it's happened before and it only took ten minutes to get it going again. Six O'clock it's hot muggy the sun is going down and the genset still ain't working. Spoke to the cooks who tell me they were planning for steak tonight so once the power is up they can have meals on in fifteen minutes. Six thirty John is trying to get the services department on the ridge to assist us if we can't restore power. I am helping to carry water to the kitchen and we are putting buckets with water in the ablution blocks so people can wash their hands. Seven o'clock our cooks have managed to use the one gas stove we have to pan fry the steaks and everybody shovels in one by one to get their meal. Our cooks are doing a fantastic job under the circumstances. I retire to my room and try to get to sleep, not much else to do really. Eight thirty congratulations to the mechanics the genset is up and running again.
I wonder what is going to happen today.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Things are never dull out here and everyday brings new surprises and a great many challenges. As a matter of fact the message below just came in this moment. (A PMV is a public Motor Vehicle, basically a small truck with benches for people to sit on in the back)
ARMED HOLDUPS - 06DEC04
TUBAGI JUNCTION AND PIMAGA AREA
POLICE HAVE REPORTED TWO ARMED HOLDUPS OF PMV'S TRAVELLING TOWARD MORO (MARKETS) TODAY.
UNCONFIRMED REPORTS STATE THAT AT LEAST TWO PASSENGERS WHERE CHOPPED WITH BUSHKNIVES - BUT NOT CRITICALLY INJURED.
POLICE AND VILLAGERS ARE HUNTING THE OFFENDERS AND POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING
ALL COMPANY AND CONTRACTOR TRAFFIC IS TO LIMIT TRAVEL TO DAYLIGHT HOURS ONLY UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. UNLESS URGENT IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT MANAGERS SHOULD NOT CONSIDER ALLOWING EMPLOYEES PAST KAIMARI CREEK FOR THE NEXT 36 HOURS.
We are working on the other side of Moro so this will probably not affect us very much.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
One of our supervisors has come down with Malaria. While that isn't terribly unusual out here the worry is that he has spent most of his time on site within the confines of the camp where we live and is taking his malaria tablets. While everybody knows that malaria prophylaxis are not a hundred percent effective this does call into question the vector control methods we have in place. It'll be interesting to see what the doctors report and our Health and safety department have to say on it.
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Yesterday the labour (Huli tribesmen) from one landowner company was on strike over a pay dispute today it's the other (Fasu tribe) groups turn. The thing I don't like about today's strike is that most of them are milling around in our compound while our security people are dealing to a problem further up the line. I am having our Community Affairs people trying to reduce tension in the crowd and it looks like that is having some result.
We have managed to separate the Huli from the Fasu and get one group of them back to work while the other group has retreated to their accommodation block waiting to be addressed by their company manager. In the mean time I have spoken to the security manager at the Ridge who will send one of his supervisors down. He is also sending a mobile squad but I have told him that they can not enter the camp as this will only inflate tensions out here.
Friday, December 03, 2004
I still have to write a general update about all the things that have happened in the last week or so but this one just can't wait.
We were informed this morning that we can't proceed with our pipe bending operation as a witch doctor from one of the villages came around last night and put a curse on our bending machine. And no matter how much talking we do none of our labourers will go even close to it.
Anyone out there who knows how to solve this one?