Alternative Manus site cost $8 million

The East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre (Dept. of Immigration and Border Protection)

The cost of readying just one of the alternative facilities for refugees on Manus Island was once described by the Australian Border Force as "fairly minimal", but the centre has ended up costing taxpayers $8.1m, The Canberra Times reports.

Logistics giant Toll Group is being paid the hefty sum for what is believed to have been about 24 days of work upgrading the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre to accommodate about 440 men.

However, the facility remains half-empty, with hundreds of asylum-seekers still refusing to leave the regional processing centre after it was decommissioned two weeks ago.

About 420 men who remain at the camp were braced for violence on last night after authorities advised them that Papua New Guinea police may remove them by force today.

The group has subsisted on the site for 13 days without supplies of food, water or electricity, sustaining themselves on stockpiled goods and rainwater collected in tanks and bins.

They say they will not leave one "prison" for another, and fear for their safety in Lorengau, where they have previously clashed with locals.

A handful of men did choose to leave at the weekend, joining a group of nearly 100 who last week agreed to relocate to Lorengau.

One such man, Rohingyan refugee Imran Mohammed, said the upgraded transit centre was "OK" and no different from the regional processing centre, but the newly arrived men had not yet received their weekly payments to buy food.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton last week described the East Lorengau transit centre as a "purpose-built facility" and said the only difference to the processing centre was that refugees would have to prepare their own meals.

"Some think that that's not good enough for them," he told radio host Ray Hadley.

PNG Immigration Minister Petrus Thomas released a statement outlining his expectation for the men to leave the processing centre by today. Otherwise, authorities would take steps "to move the residents based on serious health risks", he said.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also said she would use this week's East Asia Summit in the Philippines to press Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on her offer to resettle 150 refugees from Manus Island.


Manus Island facility upgrade cost $8.1m for 24 days' work (The Canberra Times)


New Zealand wants to meet Turnbull again over Manus (SBS News)

New Zealand Prime Minister blasts Australia’s handling of refugee crisis (

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