The National, Thursday October 17th, 2013
By MALUM NALU
MOROBE deputy provincial administrator (social services) Sheila Harou says many rural areas of the province are now covered by Digicel.
She said that was empowering the people despite government services not reaching them.
Morobe has nine districts – Lae, Markham, Huon Gulf, Bulolo, Nawaeb, Finschhafen, Tewai-Siassi, Kabwum, and Menyamya – covering some of the most-rugged terrain to the sea and Digicel had set its footprints in every one of them, she said.
Harou was responding to a complaint by the people of Burum-Kuat in Finschhafen, one of the most-rugged and remote locations in Morobe, who claimed yesterday that they were excluded from the province’s communications rollout programme.
The programme was signed by Governor Kelly Naru and Digicel last Thursday.
She said Burum-Kuat was included in the programme, contrary to the claim made by Patrick Angonde, a village leader from the Sambinong village in Mindik, and suggested that he take up his complaints to his local level government, which would, in turn, take it up to the Morobe government.
Angonde had asked why other areas of Morobe like Nawaeb, Waria and Garaina in Bulolo, Onga-Waffa in Markham, and the Siassi Islands were selected but not Burum-Kuat.
“Burum-Kuat is on the list,” Harou said.
“There are some isolated pockets in the province which urgently need communication services, but at least we start off with some areas and move on to the others.”
She named the areas Digicel would start operating in as Burum-Kuat, Nawaeb, Waria Valley, Onga-Waffa, Wantoat and parts of the Siassi Islands that were not already connected.
“These are the areas that we think should be urgently connected,” Harou said.
“Of course, there are other pockets in the province but these will come later.
“The main areas are all covered, including Menyamya, Kabwum is covered, Huon Gulf coast, the reception at Bukawa is not really good, Finschhafen is covered as well.”
Harou urged LLGs to take up their problems to the provincial government.
“Communication is a service and it’s one to empower the people,” she said.
“It’s up to the LLGs and districts.
“The provincial government has taken the initiative to sign up with Digicel.
“It’s up to the LLGs to support the provincial government.”
Angonde referred to his electorate’s exclusion from the rollout programme as a ‘slap on the face’.