By LARRY ANDREW
MOROBE’S Finschhafen District is gradually seeing a dawn of sorts after a long while. The district is transforming with the opening of new infrastructure and services reaching down to where they really impact lives.
For the last five years after being elected into parliament, and with the first two in opposition ranks, Rainbo Paita has done much for his people in the space of three years as a government MP.
Critics in and from the district may have their own say in the way they see things but Paita’s motto has been ‘wok bai tok’ (let works/actions speak). The first time MP has touched the hearts of rural communities in the district from the hinterlands down to the coast.
The recent opening of the Finschhafen airport, police station and market projects and other projects like the agriculture subsidy and road links to the untouched population are evidences of Paita’s slogan.
The recent visit by Prime Minister James Marape and several state ministers at the invitation of Paita was Paita’s way of saying thank you to the Marape Government for supporting the district in projects that will enable the rural communities to have a sustainable life and access to basic services.
Paita told Marape, state ministers, Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu and stakeholders at Gagidu station on Tuesday, April 26, that the district had invited them to thank them for the blessings and the contentment they have through the projects from the Government.
“We have seen services provided by the Government. Some work has been completed, others have just started. The support from the National Government down to the provincial government, the district and to the councilors has been exposed before us and this is our way of saying thank you. We are not here to give you a proposal or ask you of anything,” Paita, the Minister for National Planning said.
“Prime Minister, you are under no pressure to give anything to us; things that we want and the projects that have been rolled out show your fairness to all the districts in the country. You have forgotten Finschhafen as you give your support to the district also.”
Paita acknowledged that under Marape’s leadership he was made a member of cabinet. Apart from many other things the Government has opened the Fisika (Finschhafen, Siassi, Kabwum) region through to Lae by the road that is under construction connecting the three districts of Finschhafen, Tewae-Siassi and Kabwum to the Morobe capital.
Construction work on the road is currently at Nawaeb to connect Finschhafen through Nomanene to Indagen (Kabwum) and back to Finschhafen and then connect Tewae-Siassi all the way to Rai Coast in Madang.
“Hopefully in the next five years when the projects are completed and the roads are open we will have unreached populations connected by the highway to get services which they had been unable to get since independence,” Paita said.
“For today’s progamme people had been advised to gather pigs, cows and cassowaries and agriculture produce they could bring. You as Prime Minister have everything but this our people’s way of saying thank you to you and your ministers of the cabinet for the last five years. In the three years we’ve been in the Government under your leadership as Prime Minister the district has receive many good things.
“When you think of the districts you didn’t forget Finschhafen; you gave us a ministry, and are delivering road infrastructure. You gave us the Fisika highway, health and education among others. We are very thankful for what you have done for the district. This is not a programme to for anything but it is about me appreciating the support our district is getting to enable us to free ourselves in economic development. We have basic services where we can help ourselves and in so helping ourselves we can try and help our country lift its profile with our contributions going into the national purse.
“The Government is assisting us is to build up so that we can contribute more to nation-building. So PM, I want to assure you that this is not a programme that schools are here to decorate the stage but it’s all about us saying thank you to you and your government in giving us many projects. Today we are celebrating the fruition of those projects like the airport with the first PNG Air aircraft landing with you on board.
“Three major projects we are celebrating today whilst other projects will stay because of the distance of the roads. We are opening the market where the district funded in partnership with fisheries and provincial local level government we have built two markets. One will be for the fish market and buying point for agriculture and the other will be for the market for mothers to sell their goods. We district did not have a proper market for so long that saw mothers braving the hot sun and the rain to sell their goods. So today the mothers will have a good market to sell their agriculture produce.
The other project is the police station as we have seen the police in Finschhafen operating out of a house that looks like a canteen but now they will have a good station built so they can attend to law and order issues in the district.”
The third project was the opening of the airport terminal opening and the FDDA was thankful to the Lands Department to have the title to piece of land at DCA where FDDA will develop the airport infrastructures and build other infrastructures like hotel and a bank.
Paita was thankful for the partnership to work with the Papua New Guinea Defence Force for four years to work on the road link from Indagen, Kabwum to come through Nomanene with four machinery starting work on the pilot track so Kabwum can have road access to Finschhafen then to Lae.
Paita further thanked Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Lino Tom for the building of the jetties under the National Fisheries Authority to access shipping services.
The district has partnered with AG Energy for a feasibility study at Apondong to build a hydro powr station to power the township. A feasibility study has been done for the possible construction of a limestone and cement factory at Busiga. Drilling and testing had been done already and the next stage of work toward this project is the registration of incorporated land groups.
“We are working with the private investors by bringing them in and we are thankful to AG Limited, a private company to partners with the district in developing the Busiga Port, limestone and cement factory,” Paita said.
“This is one of the economic projects we have. With these three major economic projects at Busiga we want to generate our own internal revenue instead of always asking the Government. The money we received from the Government we put it into the economic projects so we have our own revenue. Whether district service improvement program (DSIP) or public investment program (PIP) funding arrives in time, we will have our money in the district to continue support our district development plan.”
Prime Minister Marape said the patience show by the people of Finschhafen by waiting for him, the ministers, the governor and the team from Port Moresby to arrive from Tewae-Siassi was symbolic.
“For the last 46 years we have waited and waited and waited for the country to get on the right course and many that waited had gone by from our grandfathers, fathers and now we children and our children are present. Today right from the start I want to say Finschhafen you are not in a bad place, you are not offcut men and women. God is present and we are here because He holds us in the palm of his hands. God made the heavens, the earth and the seas and us he appoints Kings and Queens, put leadership in office and out of office.
“All ministers, we have come to see the work that the member of Finschhafen and his DDA board had done because when he went down to Port Moresby and in opposition too, Finschhafen, was his heartbeat. When we took over Government and being a first timer politician Paita had gain over some of us who had been in parliament for a longer period, a key leader in changing the government to form a new government.
“Rainbo Paita is one of the rising stars in Morobe politics and PNG politics and I’ve seen John Rosso, Dr Kobby Bomareo they stand as strong team from Morobe under the leadership of Governor Saonu and papa Kennedy Wenge doesn’t matter wherever the wind blows, they haven’t swing to the rhythms of the politics, they stand strong on principle and change the course of the country to take back and put it in the right course where the fathers had seen in 1975.
“The National Planning Minister must be a person that holds the knife and knows how to cut a pig working right under the Prime Minister to distribute equally right throughout 89 districts, 21 provinces, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, and over 370-plus local level governments in the country. The National Planning Minister must be a big picture person because he’s holding the knife of the country, steering the ship of the country and today people of Finschhafen thank you for giving to us in the 10th parliament a fine son of Finschhafen who emerged as good national leader.
“He has the heart to listen to the advices and directions of senior Ministers and also uses initiatives not only when secure the government but ensure that the work to fix the country where he went into the right direction.
“Part of our Take Back PNG strategy or philosophy is to ensure that not only one part of the country is moving and rest are left behind. The country’s resources must be shared equally to every place. We haven’t been fair in sharing of our resources in the past. That was partly whey Bougainville crisis started and today Bougainvilleans had voted for independence and we are working to come in terms with that. This is because the distribution of resources was not done properly. We are taking back the country so that there is fair and equal distribution of resources to everyone.
“Our positions in the Government don’t matter. It’s about our people. We are focusing on the right direction that’s why you have seen the airport that had been closed for a long time and today a plane haslanded and I’m was among first persons to come.
“My advisors said the runway has not been in a good state for a long time. You are PM, you go in a helicopter from Nadzab. But I said, if I die let me die in the name of Finschhafen!”