By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK
AMBUNTI-Dreikikir is a remote electorate in East Sepik with huge challenges in delivering and accessing government goods and services.
Service delivery is a challenge because in Ambunti district, large communities live along the mighty Sepik River and her tributaries like the May, Yellow, April, Wario, Sio, Papi, Sinnu, Saniap, Waniap, Arao and Freida. The district is entirely dependent on the river network, whereas in Drekirkier, it is a rugged terrain district with a road network that is undegoing some improvement.
And so to deliver health services the Ambunti-Drekirkier District Development Authority (DDA) bought river and land ambulances to complement the Asian Development Bank (ADB)-funded Ambunti Hospital.
Ambunti-Drekirkier MP Johnson Wapunai says that “We have bought three boats that will be used as river ambulances for the Ambunti district and four Land Cruisers that will be used in Drekirkir District. These ambulances will be utilised when the newly-built Ambunti Hospital is completed by November.
“The hospital built for K27 million is about 90 per cent complete and the last load of materials will arrive by barge along the Sepik River by next month. It’s an 18 months project and ADB is happy for this project to be completed on schedule. Also 16 staff houses have been built as part of this hospital project.”
Wapunai says the three river ambulances are new in the country and were built for use in districts like Ambunti that have many large rivers which are home to large communities located along the waterways.
“These boats were bought from a boat builder’s yard in Alotau, Milne Bay and brought to Wewak. And in Wewak at Ela Motors, they have been modified with canopies for patients and health staff to travel in comfort, a bed and oxygen for patients, lights, air conditioning and power steering. These ambulances will be used by the health centres in May River, Hauna and Maposi.”
Wapunai says these ambulances will really cut down the traveling time along the rivers and save lives of patients.
“For example now a dinghy travelling from May River to Ambunti will take eight hours and with the river ambulance, it will take about four hours.”
The DDA used K8million from District Service Improvement Programme (DSIP) funds as counterfunding for the ADB hospital project.
“However, the ADB was pleased with the cooperation by the people in ensuring that the hospital project was constructed on schedule without any disturbance. So they advised me to use the K8 million for other health projects and my DDA opted to use K2 million to get these ambulances. River ambulances are for Ambunti district and land ambulances are for Drekirkier district. And I still have K6 million to be used for other health projects in my electorate,” Wapunai says.
Apart from delivering health services, the DDA is constructing new roads and maintaining existing roads in the electorate.
One such road is the new 40km link connecting East and West Sepik to help people in these remote areas access goods and services, he says.
“My DDA has so far allocated K800, 000 to build the road from Wara Sikau to link up Aitape District in West Sepik and so far we have constructed 20km of the road. We are now half way to the border with Aitape. This road is very much needed for the people living in these isolated areas to bring their cash crops like cocoa and vanilla to Wewak and Vanimo.
“This new road is amongst others that my DDA is building for people in remote areas that have been neglected since 1975. Two other road projects that are being constructed in my electorate are the Avatip-Yambi road in Ambunti district and Gawanga road in Drekikir district.
“These roads are being funded by the East Sepik Provincial Government under its Minimum Priority Area (MPA) programme. However, there are delays in completing these road projects due to allegations of mismanagement by the contractors engaged by the provincial Works division.”
Wapunai says that for the Wara Sikau-Aitape road, the owner of the contracted firm died and his sons are now continuing their late father’s work.
“I will be releasing the remaining K200, 000 next month to gravel the Yawaso-Kungar sections of that road. For the, Gawanga road the contractor and a councilor allegedly misused the K2million that the provincial Works division had allocated for the project and so onstruction is not progressing. Likewise, for the Avatip-Yambi road, the provincial Works division allocated K3 million but the contractor also misused that money. And so that road is not being built yet.”
Wapunai is concerned about being blamed for the road projects done by Works Division in his electorate.
“We have the Gawanga road project in Dreikikir and the Avatip-Yambi road in Ambunti which are funded by the provincial government under the MPA. Then we have the Komibo road that links Drekikir distrtict to Aitape district in West Sepik which is funded by my DDA.”
Wapunai made these announcements last week to clarify media reports on the progress of work on Gawanga and Avatip-Yambi road projects.
“There are delays in completing these road projects due to allegations of mismanagement of a total of K5 million by the contractors engaged by the East Sepik provincial Works division to work on these road projects.
“For the 65km Avatip-Yambi road, it’s all clear now and about 3km of work is yet to be done before it’s completed.
For the Gawanga road, major works will be done this year,” Wapunai says.