By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK
THE Onongae Catholic mission in the remote and mountainous Goilala District of Central is a place steeped in history and is from here that the Gospel began to spread to the rest of the district and province.
Onongae is where the French Catholic priest Fr Dubuy first arrived in 1913 and used his engineering feat to cut arteries out from mountains to build horse tracks so that the Gospel could be spread throughout Goilala right to the borders of Morobe and Northern.
Sadly, Fr Dubuy, then aged 65, died suddenly at Onongae Catholic mission in 1952. It is thought that his death was probably from a heart attack while he was digging the foundation for a new church building. He is buried at the mission.
One of his spiritual grandsons and Goilala MP, William Samb, is following in his footsteps to upgrade the track into a highway which will not only link Goilala to Port Moresby, but push down other mountains to further to link Lae and unite Papua and New Guinea.
There’s a Chinese tale about villagers laughing at an old man who is digging a tunnel through the mountain with his bare hands and a stick saying that if he dies before the tunnel is completed, his children will take over from him.
Well, that tale is now unfolding in Goilala where the old fashioned civil engineer Fr Dubuy dug a horse track out of the mountains using dynamites, wheel barrows, sticks and shovels and local labour. His project was also questioned by other expatriates and locals at that time as it was deemed impossible for a road to be built through the thick virgin rain forest that covered the sometimes mountainous area. But the good padre was able to build the track that allowed small vehicles such as jeeps, Suzukis, motorbikes, tractors and horses to use it during those days. The passageway was always maintained.
Currently, Samb, a modern civil engineer is upgrading that track also known as Dubuy highway with modern heavy earthmoving equipment to link Goilala to Port Moresby and Lae.
The MP sees no need for expensive construction of new roads.
“We will just link up the track to the existing Hiritano highway in the Kairuku-Hiri electorate and there is already an abandoned logging track that was built 20 years by loggers and just upgrade that track and we already have 15kms of road.
“Another 75kms is yet to be done to link up to the track. The Dubuy highway goes all the way to Onongae, Woitape, Fane, Tolukuma and Yongae at the border of Northern.”
These places are in the Woitape LLG. The track is linked to Tapini station in the Tapini LLG. From Tapini, it goes right to Momuomu in Guari LLG right at the border of Morobe.
Samb said that the track also linked Tolukuma to the existing Tapini Highway. And Tolukuma mine developers (Asitokona) will upgrade the track from Tolukuma to Fane to Belavisat in Tapini LLG. That will link with Tapini Highway at Bakoidu in the Kairuku-Hiri electorate and from there link with Aropokina also along the Hiritano Highway.
Road travellers will eventually have options to either use Aropokina or Kuriva to travel between Lae and Port Moresby.
There is an existing road from Lae to Kataipa in Bulolo district which borders with Central.
“So we are now upgrading the horse track between Tapini station and Guari and hoping to complete the upgrading by Dec for vehicles to travel. From there, Bulolo MP Sam Basil and I will work on the end of the roads in our electorates to link them up. And we are hoping that road will link both cities before the 2017 national elections.”
Samb said that he would only be rehabilitating and upgrading the projects and services that the Catholic missionaries had established.
“Services such as schools, heath centres, communication and economical projects like agriculture…these services like the road network have deteriorated since the missionaries left and past MPs had failed to upgrade them.”
Apart from the road project, communication network is another project that has already installed throughout Goilala. Kambise, Onongae, Fane, Omuomu and Yongae all have VSAT.
“The missionaries had used VHF and HF radio network to communicate with the outside world, but I have gone another step further by installing VSAT which the people can not only communicate but also to access television network and internet to watch news , sports and to know what is happening outside of Goilala.”
Just as it was the vision of early missionaries like Fr Dubuy to build roads to further the spread of the gospel and open up communication, these same dreams are now being realised by leaders of Goilala.
Not only are Goilalas to be linked to the national capital Port Moresby, they will be able to spread their wings to travel to other provinces on the mainland via the new arterial roads.
These set of roads will finally be the link between Port Moresby, Lae, Madang and the Highlands.
By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK