Gaogeng back in village after 40yrs fighting fires

People

By JIMMY KALEBE
AFTER 40 years serving in the public sector, Gaogeng Tasong, 61, is hanging up his boots – fire-fighting boots.
The Buingim villager from Bukawa in Morobe retired in August as the chief fire officer at Mt Hagen’s Kagamuga airport.
He left his village four decades ago to find a job and now he is returning home satisfied that he has contributed something to the nation.
“I came as a humble village boy, taking a boat from my village to Lae and boarding a plane to Port Moresby. Now I will have to go back the same way – while still alive. I do not want to be taken home in a coffin.
“While I still have a little bit of strength, I want to go home and be with my people. I want to thank my community for all that I am over the years.”
He completed Grade Six at Busong Primary School in Bukawa in 1974, then Grade Seven and Eight at Dregerhaffen High School in Finschhafen in 1976. He managed to complete Grade Nine and 10 at the Goroka Technical School in 1978.
His uncle brought him to Port Moresby where he joined the fire brigade in 1979. He saw a future there for him and gave his all into his new career path.
After six months with the Fire Brigade, he joined the then Department of Civil Aviation Fire Services.
He watched it become the Civil Aviation Authority and in 2008 was renamed the National Airports Corporation.
In August and September 1989, he attended an international firefighters’ course in Malaysia.
In 2001, he was appointed the president of the union of firefighters in the country based at Jackson airport.
He held the position for six years. He fought for salary increases and better working conditions for firefighters. He is glad that he did something useful for his colleagues.

“ I came as a humble village boy, taking a boat from my village to Lae and boarding a plane to Port Moresby. Now I will have to go back the same way – while still alive.”

He worked with the DCA for 30 years and the NAC for 10 years, serving in East New Britain, Morobe, Port Moresby and Western Highlands.
“I felt that the passion for working in such organisations was no longer with me.”
He is now back in his village enjoying life with his people and family. He is savouring the remaining years of his life doing something positive for his people.
He has four sons, three daughters and a few grandchildren.
“Now that I am in the village, I found out that my people still lack in basic services like health, education and others.”
He sees law and order as the biggest issues which needs to be addressed.
He therefore plans to contest the position of councillor when the opportunity arises.
His advice to workers is to retire when it is time to do so.
“To those who are nearing the age, it is advisable for you to resign from active duties, go back home and do something worthwhile before it’s too late.”

Gaogeng Tasong, fifth from right with other airport fire services officers at Nadzab Airport earlier this year.

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