By HENZY YAKHAM
LIFE along the Pomboli-Kendal-Kumbame road in Ialibu Basin LLG of Imbonggu district Southern Highlands has changed since electricity power supply was connected to the area in 2010.
After power was supplied, it triggered considerable increase in socio-economic activities including transport and trading activities as well as agriculture and livestock projects.
Also, it provided an incentive for people to build new permanent houses replacing bush material (kunai) houses within the corridor of the power line route.
Like elsewhere, with the advent of constant electricity power supply, for people in this part of Papua New Guinea, life transforming changes are occurring among ordinary grassroots people, small scale businesses, Christian churches and school-age children.
The availability of electricity enables people from all walks of life to pursue better, bigger and brighter achievements never seen before.
It enables among others, Christian churches to continue winning souls, businesses compete to thrive, village farmers toil the land to produce food and raise livestock, while school children excel in learning to reach higher stations in life.
Today, from the comforts of their living rooms families, relatives and neighbours gather to see national and international television news, sporting events, movies and other programmes.
Unlike just over six years ago, school kids and students access internet services to further their knowledge and to educate themselves on topics and issues taught at school.
Marapugl Elementary School teacher, Thomas Paie is a soft spoken person who speaks of seeing “big and real changes” occurring in people’s lives in recent years.
Paie attributes to what he describes as “the remarkable changes and real improvements” in the standard of life among ordinary villagers to the electricity power supply and improved road linkage.
Who else can be a better person than a classroom teacher to judge and or assess the performance of his or her class?
And being one, Paie says he has personally witnessed marked improvements in school children being brighter and smart in general knowledge, current events and major national events and issues.
Television news, current affairs and other programmes really complement what children learn in classrooms from teachers.
He notes that as a teacher, it allows him to learn new things and polish up his knowledge and understanding of events and issues affecting the country.
“This enables me to be sure that what I’m teaching the kids or passing on to others are factual so they too can better understand the events and issues,” he said.
“We are very thankful and appreciative of Francis Awesa (Imbonggu MP) for making it possible to providing this very important service.
“We are enjoying and benefiting the service of electricity power like anyone living in big cities and towns, but the only difference is we’re in our own villages in remote and rural areas.”
Paie said with the advent of regular supply of electricity people were able to do many wonderful things they were not able to do previously such as using electric jugs, rice cookers, deep freezers, mobile telephone chargers, watching television and using lights.
“It has made life easier and more enjoyable. That is exactly what we want from our members – build roads to link us with main highways, connect electricity to rural areas and we can do other things ourselves to improve our day to day livelihood.”
Many people in the area do not consider power supply as a luxury, but an important development tool that has become a necessity people in this day and age cannot do without, even at village level communities.
Marapugl community leader, Chief David Punge was lost of words and paused momentarily when asked of any changes that may have occurred in people’s lives since his area was connected with electricity power supply.
“Mi paul long toktok, tasol pawa kisim planti senis long laif bilong mipela man, meri na pikinini na mi tenk yu long Francis Awesa,” Chief Punge said. (I’m lost for words, power has brought many changes in the lives of men, women and children and I thank Francis Awesa).
He said what people needed was major infrastructure development such as road and electricity power supply links to rural area.
Chief Punge noted that power supply to the area has provided incentives and opportunities for people involved in projects and activities to improve their livelihood.
As well, he spoke against people chasing members of parliament for cash hand-outs and other personal benefits.
His view is that MPs should be left alone to concentrate on addressing development needs and delivering projects that will benefit a larger number of people rather than giving cash hand-outs to a few.
- Henzy Yakham is a freelance journalist.