By JAMES KILA
KILLING two birds with one stone is an old expression occasionally uttered by persons to imply or illustrate an achievement in a symbolic manner.
On Wednesday, Sept 16, 2020, as PNG was commemorating its 45th independence anniversary, a ward councilor in remote Usino-Bundi district of Madang saw something happening before him that he described as ‘one stone killing many birds’ in just a short space of time.
Bundi LLG councilor, Albert Starkey echoed the accolades of over 2,000 people who had gathered at Enekuai Primary School on the cool Kurumbukari plateau to welcome the Usino-Bundi MP and Vice Minister for Mining, Jimmy Uguro and his entourage who had travelled there to deliver over 23,000 roofing-iron sheets and a portable sawmill.
According to Starkey, the first-time MP is surging ahead in providing in better service delivery for his district.
Starkey, also a first time ward councilor in Kurumbukari was a very proud young man when Uguro honoured his invitation to attend in person to deliver the items to the people.
He said the MP’s visit to the Kurumbukari people literally signified a special independence gift for the ‘highlanders of Madang’ who shared common borders with Chimbu and Jiwaka.
The roofing iron would be evenly distributed to over 900 households. In terms of kina, the number of sheets is worth over K1.5 million which is money well-spent in tangible investment for the rural people of Ward 22 in Bundi LLG, and the people of Enekuai were lucky to be the first recipients.
The distribution of roofing sheets will be trialed in three wards: Ward 22 in Bundi LLG; Ward 31 of Usino LLG; and Ward 2 in Gama LLG.
“This is the first of its kind in the Usino-Bundi Gama district; I don’t want to put any services under the carpet. Everything must be transparently,” MP Uguro said.
“We are building roads, providing ambulances, police vehicles, vehicles for schools and even upgrading Usino Primary School to be the first technical high school in Madang,” he added.
“We are also building a brand new health centre at Usino and a new sports stadium at Walium which would be opened next year.
“We have just bought a new truck for women and also sewing machines for them,” Uguro said.
Councillor Starkey said Uguro was certainly resurrecting the once ‘back-page’ of Madang from the doldrums to be one of the best performing districts in the province.
“Usino-Bundi district is now the good and exciting news in Madang and I suppose Papua New Guinea, in terms of better services delivery,” Starkey said.
The welcome to Kurumbukari plateau involved a variety of activities in honour of the MP. It began at the foot of the Kurumbukari plateau at Banu located on the banks of the milky-brown Ramu River right up to the mountain.
The MP was driven in a convoy through the country’s first nickel/cobalt mine managed by Chinese developer Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Limited up to the relocation village of Enekuai where the ceremony was held coinciding with PNG’s 45th independence anniversary.
Singsing groups in traditional attire, school children in uniforms and sporting teams lined up from the entrance to the village all the way to a makeshift grand stand to welcome the MP.
“This is your first time to visit Kurumbukari Ward 22 since you were elected into parliament and we convey our congratulations on your 2017 election victory,” Starkey told Uguro.
Women’s leader at Enekuai, Maria Kikimbe in an emotional speech, said MP Uguro was the first elected leader to visit them.
“Your visit here means a lot to our lives. You have started very well with some of your plans for the district. These are positive signs of good and quality leadership, and your dream to see every family have iron roofing over their heads would definitely change our standard of living,” Kikimbe said.
“We have not seen other MPs in the past doing similar things,” she added.
She even recalled the past where villagers from the Kurumbukari plateau had to walks for days through the thick jungles crossing leech-infested swamps, creeks and the big Ramu River to reach Usino and Walium just to access basic government services and do business. Many lives had been lost along the torrid journey.
“Young men and women today must not take it for granted upon experiencing the better life now with good roads and bridges. We had felt great pains in the past.
“I am now relieved after the Chinese company Ramu NiCo has come in and built the road and bridge across the Ramu and it is easier to move to town in just a few hours, and services are reaching right to our door steps,” Kikimbe said..
The MP in response told the people of Kurumbukari to respect MCC as a valuable development partner in the district.
“The Chinese are our friends. Respect them and respect their properties that are moving up and down the highway.”
He further mentioned that the first steel coils used to manufacture roofing-iron sheets were purchased and shipped from China to PNG by Ramu NiCo.
Ramu NiCo Community Affairs deputy general manager, Albert Tobe, who was part of the delegation to Enekuai, told the people that they should be proud to have chosen Uguro who has really given his heart to serve them.
“Only people with leadership qualities have a heart for the people,” Tobe said.
“People without leadership qualities do not deliver community-oriented services and results.They only produce their own results and do their own ground breaking ceremonies, and not community-oriented ground breaking ceremonies,” Tobe said.
Prime Minister James Marape on Aug 20 travelled to Usino where he officiated at the new Bige bridge opening, Usino water supply project launching and the cocoa roll-out programme.
The PM also commissioned Phase 1 of the Usino-Bundi rural electrification programme, witnessed the memorandum of agreement (MoA) signing for the new Usino technical high school and the MoA signing between the Department of Agriculture and Livestock and Sumkar, Middle Ramu and Usino-Bundi districts.
Two days after the Sept 16 ceremony at Kurumbukari, MP Uguro paid another visit to Usino village on the Ramu plain where he delivered over 16,000 roofing iron sheets which cost about K500,000 for Ward 31 of Usino LLG.
The MP was once again accorded a colourful traditional welcome. However, Usino’s reception was rather different since Uguro was a local from the area. He was adorned with a traditional cloth to signify that his own people were proud of his leadership.
Uguro told his people that he recalled the hard times when he slept under thatched-roof houses and experienced the miseries during rains and stormy nights.
“I’ve had to scurry around to find a dry place to lie down to sleep, and move my bed around in our haus morota.
The MP said those hard times he had faced in the past have molded him to be determined to do well for his people.
Uguro told the gathering that 45 years of political independence was milestone in reaching maturity.
“This signifies adulthood and enables us to have good long hard look at ourselves and strive for economic independence.”
He stressed that every family in the district should benefit from the distribution of roofing iron. Each family should get 24 sheets.
Moreover, the MP told his people that the district development authority had already acquired a machine to producing v-crimp wall panels and ridge caps so they could build complete homes.
The MP also announced that families in the district would be given 100 cocoa, coconut and coffee seedlings to plant in their own backyards.
Something is happening in this part of Madang and MP Uguro is seen by many as writing a new chapter for his district in terms of tangible development and servicedelivery.
- The author is a public relations officer with Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd in Madang.