Gama’s lost son returns

Former Usino-Bundi MP George Wan addressing his people of Gai in Gama LLG of Usino-Bundi district in Madang.

GAMA is one of three local level governments in Usino-Bundi district and it is awkwardly situated in the mountainous region of the Bismark ranges on the border of Madang and Jiwaka provinces.
It used to be part of Middle-Ramu until 2002 when it was separated to be become part of Usino-Bundi district by one George Wan who was the acting governor of Madang then.
Wan is also a former member for Usino-Bundi electorate and had served two terms in office. During his tenure he successfully negotiated with the Electoral Boundaries Commission for three separate LLGs for Madang which today exist Nayudo in Rai Coast district, Kovon in Middle-Ramu and Gama in Usino-Bundi.
I had a privileged to meet Wan last Monday at the Madang airport when we were invited by Education Minister Jimmy Uguro to travel by helicopter to Gama LLG for his electoral visit and to deliver assistance by the Usino-Bundi District Development Authority (DDA) to nine remote primary schools. The venue arranged was Gai village, Wan’s home home.
The Manolos Aviation helicopter departed Madang at mid-morning in clear blue sky and provided an ideal and wonderful photo-shooting opportunity of the picturesque Madang harbour and the outer beautiful coral islands plus the Kalibobo lighthouse. However, it was not possible as I was sandwiched between the minister and a police officer so a good angle from window view was not in possible.
Our arrival some 20 minutes later after flying westward in the direction of Western Highlands, and as we were hovering over the Bismark range and having Wan’s Gai village right below, the chopper suddenly encountered a hiccup. It could not land as a sudden air-pocket accompanied by a sudden gust wind swerved the flying machine indicating heavier access. The expert pilot upon weighing the situation decided taking off to land at a nearby Bank airstrip and offloaded three who were on board including Gama LLG president David Bepang, former president Elizah Kas and Gama Ward 1 member Albert Opan and headed back to Gai. They were to be picked up later.
Wan’s arrival at his Gai village was literally like the return of the prodigal son in the Bible. Community leaders swarmed in numbers to hug and many shed tears openly with him.
The former two-term MP was direct in his address to his people that during this time of national general elections (NGE) they should be firm and not go around just to eat pork in different venues being hosted by candidates. They should be mindful of their future generation and not engage in any corrupt conduct.
He was particular with his message since his people of Mareng census division are situated on the border of Middle-Ramu in Madang and Jimi LLG in Jiwaka. He urged them to refrain from illegal acts like double-voting or going about eating and enjoying what was offered by candidates and thereby choose wrong leaders for the sake of money and short-term material gains.
Switching to his own Mareng language from time to time in his speech, he shared his wisdom by stating that if Gama people choose wisely they would reap blessings and if they choose wrongly (or corruptly) they would reap cursing or corruption.
I noticed that the Mareng people in Gama LLG have similar features to their cousins from Jimi LLG in Jiwaka because they speak the same language. Even during the event at Gai the beating of the kundu drums, the head-dresses and the harmonising choruses by the women folks in their beautiful bilas resembled their cousin sisters from Jiwaka.
Wan told his people of his decision to consolidate his support to MP Uguro whom he had come to respect highly because in just two years in office he had delivered tangible projects and services in the districts which were unseen or unheard of previously.
Some of these projects include the new Walium sports stadium, new Usino health centre, new Usino technical high school, electricity supply from Walium to Usino and the rolling-out of the iron roofing programme for every family in Usino-Bundi-district which also covers Gama LLG. Another important infrastructure soon to be launched is the brand new district office complex.
Furthermore, as the Education Minister representing Madang and Usino-Bundi district Uguro had delivered six new high schools in the district, one at Bundi named after the late Fr Mike Morrison, the new Ramu Valley High School, Keinanjs High School in Gama LLG and the new Sir Max David Agro Technical College at Brahman station. These are certainly feats achieved in a short term by a leader with vision for change and transformation.
Uguro presented a K200,000 cheque to Wan to assist in the road works from Antiku towards the banks of the Ramu river to make it easier for the Gama people to travel to reach the Transgogol road in Madang district instead of travelling upstream along the Ramu river to Banu to catch PMVs.
Uguro told the gathering at Gai village that the Usino-Bundi DDA has already planned to have a road built using the existing Banu to Daunagari road and have it extended to Forogo.
Minister Uguro said the DDA planned to use a logging company to harvest logs and timber would be also utilised for a rural housing scheme. The company would do the upgrading and Works Department would put up bailey bridges along the road across a number of rivers including Mambu, Marum and Wara Laplap to name a few.
“Gama will change,” Uguro said.

Minister Uguro presenting a cheque for K200,00 to formoer MP George Wan for work on a road project in Gama LLG of Usino-Bundi district in Madang.

“It is already in the plan, but time has caught up with me,
“When I return I would push for the road project to commence soon after,” he added.
The minister also shared with the Mareng people of Gama LLG how Usino-Bundi had been transform during his term from being the lower bracket in terms of services deliver to be currently the top performing district in Madang province and the third in the country.
The god-fearing MP took time to explain the formula for change, and that is leadership and services results in change or positive transformation. Moreover, leadership must be for the people in order to promote effective services delivery which then leads to change and development.
“If this formula is miscalculated then our society will struggle to see change and development,” Uguro explained.
An excited group of young men and women from Gai village in their sporting uniform paraded in style to express their appreciation to MP Uguro as this particular group had walked across the rugged terrain to reach Ramu river and travelled upstream to participate at the PM’s Cup competition at Walium during grand opening of the new sports stadium last month.
Minister Uguro told the sporting association at Gama LLG that he has plans to assist sporting associations in wards by putting up permanent infrastructures so youth are occupied in sports and not turning to lawlessness activities.
“When they play games in the association good players are selected to attend the district tournament at Walium using the new sports stadium,
“From the district tournament, the top cream are selected and exported outside,” he said.
He told the sportsmen and women and the people who gathered that the sports stadium also brings in money and helps the local economy in the district.
“We have tried it out last time and it worked so well. The mothers in the informal sector have gone home with K200, K300, K400, K500 and K1,000 in a day during the staging of the tournament following the opening of the new stadium,” Uguro said.
The challenge now is for fathers to build guests houses to host visitors who would be coming to play at the new stadium.
The Walium sports stadium has already become a ‘market place’ for Usino-Bundi district literally.
Minister Uguro also during the trip to Gama announced that the Momase regional volleyball championship would be hosted at the new stadium at Walium and also there is indication of a basketball tournament to be held at the same venue.
Nine primary schools in Gama LLG who received K50,000 to assist in various projects their board come up with are Gai primary, Kombaku, Nimbla, Tungaka, Kenainj, Korobaka,Fogogo, Wunenum and Wanang primary school.
Ganj ward nine member, Simeon Kuk, on behalf of the Gai community thanked Minister Uguro for bringing their leader Wan to visit them after a very long time since he was unseated as the MP for Usino-Bundi after serving two terms.
Kuk was very appreciative and thankful to minister Uguro for the assistance to the nine primary schools in Gama LLG which are so remote yet provide vital education for the children who shall be leaders of tomorrow.
Minister Uguro explained that the Pangu-led Marape government which he is part of is focused on rural education program. It wants to make sure education that is enjoyed in town reaches the rural areas of the country. That is why as the Education minister from Madang province he is doing that as a demonstration to show the country the way to go.
“We are putting up high schools here and there in the remote parts of PNG and we are starting with Usino-Bundi,” Uguro said.
“The basic aim to do this, number one is to ‘leave no child behind’” he added.
“Our vision is to provide quality, well-rounded education in answer to the National Goal number one call for Integral Human Development,
“All our children from the remote parts of Usino-Bundi especially the girls must be educated and have access to schools, minister Uguro stated.
Uguro thanked the Prime Minister James Marape who has honored the people of Usin0-Bundi with the ministry of Education.
It is one of the most important ministries and the time Uguro has served has given him an opportunity to contribute meaningfully as well as gaining insights into the way the country is educating the future leaders of government and industry in our country.

  • James Kila is a public relations officer with Ramu NiCo Management (MCC), a nickel/cobalt mine in Usino-Bundi district in Madang.