The National – Tuesday, February 1, 2011
UNTIL recently Buin only had power for four hours a day, and even that was dependent on private generators which many locals could not afford to purchase or run.
Now thanks to a joint initiative between the Australian and New Zealand governments, in partnership with the Autonomous Bougainville Government, the small town on the south-east tip of Bougainville has 24-hour power for the first time since much of its infrastructure was destroyed during the crisis years.
AusAID’s programme manager in Bougainville Roselyn Kenneth said, at the opening ceremony, that the restoration of power and the hosting of the games were important peace and development milestones for Bougainville.
“It is an important day because the games are being held here in South Bougainville which, until quite recently, was considered an unstable conflict zone.
“People from all over Bougainville were able to come together in Buin and experience the powerful uniting force of sport. And the games definitely wouldn’t have been possible without 24-hour power.
The restoration of power also improved the ability of local government officers to get more done and local businesses are looking forward to growing their interests.
The joint initiative has so far seen 24-hour power restored to many of Bougainville’s major centres, including Buka, Kokopau and Sohano.
In Arawa, residents were excited about 24-hour power to be switched on in coming months.
AusAID’s development specialist in Bougainville, Madeleine Moss, said it was clear that the absence of power had a detrimental effect on health, education and economic opportunities.
“But equally as important, the restoration of power here is seen by the local community as a visible symbol of progress,” she said.
Australia and New Zealand also provided funding for the third Bougainville regional games last December where teams were encouraged to participle more as in friendly games than in competition.