Aust supporting infrastructure in PNG

Focus, Normal

The National, Thursday, May 12, 2011

I THINK it is important for the people of Papua New Guinea to understand precisely what the Australia-PNG development partnership is achieving – in practical, concrete terms.
We do a lot together, and it should be better understood. I think both Australians and Papua New Guineans would be pleased to know just what the aid programme is achieving in developing tangible infrastructure in PNG.
Bricks and mortar amount to a clear, demonstrable contribution –  and there is plenty of it!
Last year alone, AusAID’s education programme built 178 new classrooms and 89 new teachers’ houses at a cost of K22.5 million right across the country.
Next year, we plan to spend K100 million on another 400 new classrooms, 75 new teachers’ houses and upgrades to national high schools, technical colleges and universities.
In addition, 155 new teachers’ houses and 132 classrooms have been built by the Incentive Fund since 2000.
So far, this year, the Incentive Fund had started constructing new buildings costing K23.8 million at Mainohana Technical Secondary School in Central and at the Divine Word University and PNG Maritime College in Madang.
Case study: Enga. Since 2009, AusAID had used grants to build 17 new school buildings in Enga alone, including four teachers houses in Wabag (two at Kerapusamanda Primary School and two at Takienda Primary School).
Using flat-pack school building kits made in Lae (for classrooms, offices, teachers houses and solar panels and water tanks), AusAID has built 10 classrooms and five teachers’ houses in Enga last year with Imangabos Elementary School receiving a double classroom with office and a teacher’s house.
Over the last two years, AusAID has built 12 clinics; six in the highlands and six in Momase. Another 15 clinics would be built in the next two years in the New Guinea Islands and Central regions.
Later this year, we will start construction on a new midwifery school at Vunapope, costing about K7.5 million.
We will also build 20 new community health posts and 60 new staff houses, rehabilitate 75 rural health facilities and 75 staff houses over the next four years in eight provinces at a cost of K100 million. 
Through the Incentive Fund, work has started this year on the construction and renovation of buildings at Alotau and Vanimo general hospitals, plus upgrades to some of the remotest health centres and aid posts in the Catholic diocese of Madang (total cost K23 million).
AusAID has spent K67.5 million on law and justice sector infrastructure in the last five years, refurbishing 16 courthouses, 12 police stations and barracks and houses, 10 Correctional Services facilities including jails and housing for staff members plus infrastructure for the offices of the public prosecutor and the public solicitor, including three community justice centres and the Legal Training Institute.
We will continue to support similar infrastructure investments, spending an average of K10 million in each of the next four years.
Case study: Bougainville. Following the civil war, AusAID had invested significant funds in rebuilding shattered law and justice infrastructure.
In the last few years, they have built and refurbished three courthouses in Buka, Arawa and Buin; the offices of the public prosecutor and public solicitor; three community justice centres; a prison and several police stations.
This had enabled the restoration of other services such as education and health and let people resume their normal lives and restart businesses.
AusAID has invested around K2 billion in the transport sector in PNG since 1994.
This included significant maintenance work on 355km of the
Highlands Highway and on other national roads including 812km of sealing and resealing, 266km re-gravelling and 938km of other maintenance.
Planned transport expenditure for this year totalled K160.4 million.
This would upgrade and reseal 236.1km of national roads at a total cost of K95.4 million.
The remainder will fund significant maintenance work including pothole patching, vegetation control, drainage clearing, minor slip stabilisation works and bridge maintenance works.
This basic maintenance is all about asset management, helping to delay the need for lengthy and expensive rehabilitation activities.
Australia’s defence cooperation programme included a K3 million per year infrastructure programme to help improve PNGDF living and working conditions.
Many of the PNGDF’s 1,874 married quarters had benefited from targeted repair work and there had also been major capital works including a K4.5 million new water system and sewerage treatment plant at the PNGDF main training facility at Goldie River. 
Under Exercise Pukpuk, the Australian government spent nearly K4 million per year on construction tasks such as the renovation of command centres at forward operating bases, the communications centre and chapel at Murray Barracks and the gymnasium at Goldie River Barracks.
Case study: Goldie River. The defence cooperation programme is currently funding a stand-alone pro-
ject at Goldie River to sink twin 30m bores to provide a reliable supply of fresh, clean water during the dry season. Once completed next month, the bores and their associated pumping, distribution and storage system would deliver up to 120,000 litres per day.
Do not feel left out if your district or province had not been mentioned in this article. 
The idea is to provide examples; not a universal list of all the work being done under the programme. That would make for a very long article indeed.
lIan Kemish has been the High Commissioner of Australia to PNG since February last year. He was
most recently the Australian ambassador to Germany, a position he held from April 2006. Kemish was made a member of the order of Australia (AM) in 2003 in recognition for managing the Australian government’s response in the aftermath of the Oct 12, 2002, Bali bombings. Kemish spent most of his childhood in Papua New Guinea where his parents worked in various provinces. He completed his primary school education in PNG, and speaks Tok Pisin among other languages.