Food crops dying, drinking water contaminated, dead fishing reefs, what else is left to happen?
The people of Basamuk who are living with the Chinese Nickel Mine right in their face everyday since it started operations, are meeting their fate of having a FOREIGN MINER on their land and dumping into their sea.
Some may say the effects are slowly kicking in but for Terry Kunning, a very outspoken Basamuk landowner, the effects are closing in way too fast for the people to adjust or adapt.
“In fact it is impossible for anyone to adjust or adapt in a situation like this,” Terry said.
“It is not double trouble, it is trouble way over our heads because our crops are dying after the continuous gas release from the mine sinks and settles on them, and the sea turned red again after the chemical spill at the beginning of March, so where are we supposed to go to?” said a very worried Kunning.
Basamuk is an island in the Basamuk Bay of Madang Province and the people’s livelihood like any other islanders, depends entirely on the sea for traditional medicine, bathing, transportation, and for fish to eat and to sell for money for school fees, health care and other basic necessities.
According to the villagers, the sea has turned red once again as a result of the recent chemical spill, causing some more reefs to die out, killing some fish and scaring the others away. The people say that they are aware that the fish they catch and eat are most likely to be contaminated, but they eat them anyway because that is their only food.
As well as that, like any other islanders, the Basamuk people collect rainwater for drinking. However as of last year they have witnessed patches of black substances never seen and experienced before on their rooftops after strong winds, which often take place every afternoon and night and on bad weather days.
Now the rain that falls onto their roofs, into the gutters and into their tanks and everything else that they use to collect their drinking water with, has been washing that substance into their drinking water ever since. As it is with the fish, the islanders are still drinking the water they collect, because that is all they have for drinking.
Food plants in their gardens are withering and drying out, and if they do bear food, it is either malnourished or has a lot of sores. They said they are often left with very little of a taro to eat, because that’s all they are left with after cutting out the sores.
Mind you, they have some of the biggest taros grown on the island; one taro can feed two adults or four children in a meal. Like the fish and the drinking water, their garden food is most likely to be contaminated as well, but they still eat it because that what they have for eating.
If their garden foods are dying, their drinking water polluted, their fishing reefs destroyed, then where are they suppose to get their food and water from?
Off course there are stores but where do they get the money to buy food and water because after all, they say they haven’t seen any form of real benefit that can be seen as real development from this Chinese miner.
Even at this time with what they’re going through, the people say the Chinese miner, aka the ‘developer’ hasn’t called in with any supplies of any kind to help the people it claims to be bringing development to.
As the people put it, ‘What is development? The development we’re getting, is this new cursing experience’.