The people of Western Highlands have been warned not to steal vehicles belonging to the Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority (WHPHA) or face the consequences.
In a strong message to the public, the management has warned that if its vehicles are continuously targeted and stolen, it will have no choice but to close services at Mt Hagen Hospital.
The warning follows an incident at Mopa Compound in Warakum at about 11.30pm last Thursday where the driver of one of its vehicles was punched in the face and the vehicle taken from him. The driver was dropping off two doctors who had done the night shift at Mt Hagen Hospital.
Four criminals held up the driver and took the vehicle, a Toyota Landcruiser 10-seater and drove it to a location behind Mt Kuta, about 15 kilometers from Mt Hagen City where it was covered with mud and hidden in a pit with the intention of stripping it to sell the parts.
A member of the local community discovered the vehicle at about 3.30am and called the WHPHA’s Transport Manager, Peter Ning who then salvaged the vehicle with the help of other members of the community.
The vehicle had its windscreen smashed and the side rear vision mirrors removed when it was recovered. It also had big dents on its body which would cost a substantial amount of money to repair.
This was the fourth incident this year where Provincial Health Authority vehicles had been stolen in similar circumstances and recovered with the help of community members.
Mr Ning thanked those members of the community who helped to recover the vehicle and urged those involved in stealing the vehicle and others who may be thinking of doing the same to refrain from such activities.
He said Provincial Health Authority vehicles were there to provide patient care services to the people of Western Highlands and the neighbouring provinces and the selfish acts of a few greedy people would put the health of the majority at great risk.