By LEO WAFIWA
THE Coffee Industry Corporation’s Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (coffee) is set to construct a Works (department) standard 5km road for K1.7m in the remote Obura-Wonenara District of Eastern Highlands.
Contract signing for construction of the Nombia-Bibiori road took place at the Central Supply and Tenders Board (CSTB) office in Port Moresby on Friday, Oct 20.
There to officiate at the initialing were CSTB Acting Chairman Dr Ken Ngangan, Project Manager of CIC-PPAP Potaisa Hombunaka, Minister for Labour & Industrial Relations and MP for Obura-Wonenara Mehrra Minne Kipefa, and local contractor Kassampy Constructions Ltd representatives.
The road will service over 20,000 people of the Lamari LLG in the Tairora area of Obura-Wonenara to transport their coffee to the nearest Kainantu town. The area is known for producing very high quality organic coffee.
“The contract is not of a high amount but we have to ensure the process is followed,” said Dr Ngangan.
Minister Kipefa on behalf of his people thanked CSTB for allowing the procurement and tendering process to go through.
The local MP also acknowledged CIC-PPAP for partnering Obura-Wonenara District Development Authority (DDA) to rehabilitate the road which he says will open up the area for other services such as health and education. With productive partnership between DDA and PPAP, over 20km of road will be rehabilitated beginning from Norikori Junction to Bibiori. The first 15km is being funded and or counter funded together.
In March/April the DDA through its District Support Improvement Program (DSIP) fund financed the construction of a 7km access road from Norikori junction to Barabundora Junction. The other 9km from there to Nombia will be counter funded by the DDA and PPAP as per discussion between Minister Kipefa and Project Manager for CIC-PPAP Potaisa Hombunaka.
Hombunaka congratulated Kassampy Construction Ltd for being awarded the contract and also for making it into the good books of World Bank and International Fund for Agricultural Fund (IFAD) for passing this first test. The real test will be accomplished on delivering a Works standard road.
“We have to ensure the process is followed because the end game is to build a road that is of high quality standard that will last for years,” said Hombunaka.
During construction both PPAP consulting engineers and provincial works engineers will carry out routine inspections till it’s conclusion.
The World Bank and IFAD are financiers of the CIC-PPAP industry rehabilitation effort and construction of access roads comes under Component 3 infrastructure development function. The CIC going forward will be recommended to have an Engineering section in its structure as market access is critical to growth of the industry.
The CIC-PPAP senior procurement officer Theresa Witi, was overwhelmed in that this will be the first road to be constructed under the project.
“Finally we will build the first road. I like to thank everyone including CSTB and project financiers for the process to go through,” Witi said.
Coffee is the lifeline of the local Lamari LLG people. The locals are hard working. They have the capacity to produce more beans from their coffee gardens, but the dilemma of the last 40 plus years is, they have no easier access to market.
There are only two closest access roads to Lamari, one ends at Obura Station and the other at Nombia. The locals prefer walking to Nombia which is about 25kms from Kainantu town and 20kms from Aiyura Research Station and SIL Ukarumpa. The economic cost of transporting a coffee bag to Kainantu through Obura station is K50 compared to Nombia which is only K20.
The new road link will be a new chapter in the lives of these people often referred to as the back page of Eastern Highlands.
“We only see a plane from the sky. We’re still in the dark like our ancestors (Mipela save lukim balus flai antap tasol. Mipela stap long tudak yet olsem ol tumbuna),” said Ward 12 Councillor Kumbora Kevid, in an earlier interview.
“This will be a new chapter in our lives. They call us back page. We haven’t had any government services in Lamari since Independence,” added Willie Autai a ward 6 councillor in Baira 1 area of Lamari.
Women usually carry extra loads, including food to eat, on their journey until they reach Nombia. Of the two women representatives, one Susan Kosa said in November 2015 that she always hopes that her children would not live the same life they lived.
“Mipela tu laik stap olsem ol taun lain ya. Why na bai nogat? Mipela ol mama sapot long rot go long Bibiori (We also want to live like town people. Why should we not? We the mothers want to see the road to Bibiori,” said Kosa.
Another mother Junis Kevit, said the road will help mothers to bring their sick children to the nearest Kainantu Hospital.
“Mi amamas na welkamim dispela rot bikos mipela ol mama ken kisim ol pikinini go long Kainantu haus sik (I’m happy because we the mothers can take our children to Kainantu hospital).”
The CIC recent coffee census recorded 1.5 million coffee trees in Lamari LLG.
The coffee rehabilitation is a CIC project through Department of Agriculture & Livestock. It is financed by a loan facility from World Bank and IFAD with support funding from the PNG Government.
- The author is Information & Communications Officer for Coffee Industry Corporation’s Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (CIC-PPAP).