By GABRIEL LAHOC
THE continuous water and power woes affecting Lae have forced Public Enterprises Minister Arthur Somare to give top level directions to PNG Power and PNG Waterboard to improve their services.
“Lae is Papua New Guinea’s most important city after Port Moresby and acts as a shipping and industrial hub, and this is not a good sign.
“It is of utmost urgency that water and power supply problems are rectified as quickly as possible,” Mr Somare said.
Top executives of the two public enterprises told Mr Somare they were working together to resolve Lae’s current water supply problem.
Mr Somare was advised that last week three of the seven bore pumps were operational with a total capacity of 23 million liters a day, however, a serious problem arose over the weekend when a third recently-purchased water pump motor was burned during operations, destroying the motor and adversely affecting pumping capacity.
Only two borehole pumps are currently working, with a capacity of 16.6 million litres.
Mr Somare has also instructed another public enterprise, Air Niugini, “to assist with timely delivery of a new motor” which was ordered from Brisbane.
Waterboard and PNG Power employees will ensure the safe installation of the new motors, which will provide adequate pumping capacity to bring Lae’s water supply back to normal as soon as possible.
Mr Somare said that he has also instructed the Independent Public Business Corporation, to which both the PNG Waterboard and PNG Power report to, to engage technical experts to assess the water supply situation in Lae, and the best way of expanding future supply capacity.
The city at this stage is still experiencing regular power failures and water shortages, forcing residents to store water and use rivers and water holes, which was discouraged by health authorities following the cholera outbreak last year.