The National, Wednesday, May 18, 2011
A NEW airstrip has been built by the French government and its partners in the remote Ikundi area on the border of Morobe, Gulf and Eastern Highlands.
The airstrip, built at an estimated cost of more than K500,000, now makes it possible for the people to have access to basic goods and services from the outside world.
French ambassador Alain Waquet said the French government came to the aid of Ikundi last year as a response to the severe drought that had hit the area and the nearby Menyamya district of Morobe.
Waquet said the airstrip was an old project that was initiated in 1993 but financial and logistical constraints had held up work.
Waquet said the French government was interested in the airstrip because it would open the way for the local population to have access to much-needed health and education services.
In a statement released by the embassy, Waquet said: “A new airstrip, built with French financial assistance, is already helping to save lives in the face of a serious humanitarian crisis.”
“After years of hard work, and in the face of almost impossible odds, the Ankave people of Gulf managed, with the financial assistance of the French government, to build an airstrip in the remote village of Ikundi.
“The airstrip is now operational after successfully passing an inspection process in November last year with the first plane landing on Jan 25.
“The new airstrip has immediately been put to use to help mitigate the serious humanitarian crisis in the area.”
The Ankave community with its population of 1,250 and the estimated 550 people of Ikundi will benefit from the airstrip.
He said the airstrip was the first of two projects, with the other being to build a new school, aid post and teacher’s house in the area at a cost of K200,000.
The second project is expected to be completed at the end of this year and will have input from the Menyamya district administration, Wild Life Conservation and Clinton Health Access Initiative.