Fat of the land goes to waste

Weekender

By MELANIE VARI
AFTER 45 years what excuse can one come up with to explain to an outsider that there is no government presence in Karimui-Nomane District in Chimbu?
For a district that is ranked number one in Papua New Guinea for its high quality organic fruits and vegetables and cash crops like cocoa the size of pawpaws and ranked 50th in the world amongst great cocoa exporting nations like Brazil, this is a case of great injustice committed against human beings.
Karimui-Nomane is designated to be the next best thing to happen to Papua New Guinea’s resource sector in that it has also presented massive potential in oil and gas, hydro-power and mining.
This district is a part of the Chimbu in the highlands of Papua New Guinea and shares geographical and political borders with Eastern Highlands, Southern Highlands and Gulf.
However, hidden in this little corner of Chimbu is the knowledge that the basic services are either at a level so poor or just non-existent that one stresses out the mind just to comprehend how this has happened to a proud nation of people, of tribes that constitute the Karimui Rural LLG, Nomane Rural LLG and Salt Rural LLG.
Karimui is the biggest LLG and has 27 wards, Nomane has 13 wards and Salt has 24 wards.
This writer was told that the officials here packed their bags ages ago and hypothetically fled the district headquarters at Karimui for the provincial capital Kundiawa all because they could not function effectively from this remote district that has poor and no proper road networks.
“Do you know, what has happened is that the Karimui-Nomane headquarters is located in Kundiawa, the provincial capital?” They are not in the correct geographical location of the electorate but in Kundiawa for goodness sake,” stressed Motsy David, a son of the electorate.
“So we now realise that the Government has already left the place after the agents of state literally moved their location. Government presence has already moved away from the people, business and everything is done there so if people have a problem that needs to be addressed they must travel into the capital and not the district,” he said.
He emphasised that there was a great lack of visionary leadership because the district headquarters was no longer functioning from the electorate and that the people no longer felt that there was a government in the community.
“So that means that people from these very remote rural LLGs of Salt, Nomane and Karimui in order to have access to or to talk to their government officials must travel into Kundiawa when they should be connected to Karimui and Nomane. This is a very expensive and lengthy exercise,” David said.
There are almost 80,000 Papua New Guineans living and working here and the Constitution of Papua New Guinea protects their rights to enjoy the various benefits that their government can bless them with but this is not happening.
David, a concerned son of Karimui-Nomane explained during the usual visit to his village Dawa in the Salt Rural LLG that he was disappointed of the current status quo that many successive local and provincial governments and leaders had deliberately ignored due to the enormity of the situation or because they lacked the vision to handle the welfare of his beloved district.
“When you look at the example of a remote community like the Chimbu Province’s Karimui-Nomane District and its headquarters in Karimui, it is very remote and isolated from a lot of government services.”
“This particular electorate is accessible by two modes of transportation. The Salt LLG and the Nomane LLG are accessible by road transportation and mind you these road networks are so badly deteriorated one has to pay K30 for a two-hour journey to Kundiawa which could have been made in less than an hour if the roads were in top condition. Previously, the fares used to be K10 and K15.”
“The Karimui LLG, which is the biggest LLG is only accessible by aeroplane and it hosts 27 wards, Nomane is 13 wards and Salt is 24 wards.”
David said that the answer to delivering Karimui-Nomane lay in the construction of infrastructure such as good roads because only then can economic development and human development take place.
The establishment of good infrastructure in a rural setting is different than that of a semi-urban setting because when you look at the example of a very remote community like the Chimbu Province’s Karimui-Nomane it is isolated from a lot of government services.
Given that backdrop David said that roads were a critical infrastructure and are a catalyst to development.
“Roads are critically important because the rest of the services will ride upon the shoulders of the road. If the road is in good and perfect condition, then you will see that the hospital medicine will be delivered, the school supplies will be delivered and teachers will be able to go to the schools that are very remote.”
The critical part of the Karimui-Nomane District component is that apart from Salt and Nomane LLGs, Karimui LLG is highly economical. It has massive potential in its organic food and cash crops like cocoa, coffee, peanuts, pawpaw, taro, yams, sweet potatoes, English potatoes, cabbages, carrots and so forth.
“The potential is there but infrastructure is the hindrance to realising the economic potential of that particular product,” Mr David said.
There is also a massive oil and gas prospect in Karimui because it shares the same resource vein that descends from the Hides down to the Papuan LNG area. We’re also talking about gold, the Mt Crater gold mine right at the bottom of Eastern Highlands and Chimbu provinces is in operation.
David also mentioned the potential Karimui hydro power station project and the massive Purari River dam construction.
“Okay, and the critical part of Karimui is that it is strategically located towards Wobbo and Kikori and they have close accessibility down this way,” he said.
“So my concern is that in my electorate Salt-Nomane-Karimui successive governments and local members of parliament have never critically prioritised the key areas of development, and everybody is doing things in an ad-hoc manner,” David added.
He told this writer that ad-hoc development is a result of lack of coordination and wanton disregard of the local villagers and public servants’ welfare and the potential of the district.
Some of the villages affected by the lack of good roads include Salt RLLG’s Wara Sua, Dawa, Olwi, Kama, Yobai, Drima, Onima, Peruwii, Ainabane, Kilau and Mogiage. On Nomane RLLG soil, villages such as Dulai, Nomane, Horu, Kiari and Waisime are also feeling the blow and Karimui RLLG is no different with some of its villages like Yoru, Bomai, Talbakul, Noru, Bosumaru and Karimui Station also locked into the vicious circle.
David said that after 45 years the roads in his district remain in a very bad state.
“So, all in all, I think that the people responsible in all tiers of government, the bureaucrats must wake up and prioritise the key areas of development in order for tangible development and tangible transformation to occur in our communities.”

  •  Melanie Vari is the press secretary in the Ministry of Mining

 

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