By ZACHERY PER
AFTER 40 years working as a public servant, Geoffrey Kokorime wishes he could have done more for the people if there was adequate government funding.
Geoffrey comes from Stone-Famo village just outside Kainantu town, one of eight children whose father was a policeman. His father’s job forced the family to move from place to place when he was transferred.
He completed Grade 10 at the Kerowagi High School in 1978. He joined the civil service as a land use officer with the Department of Agriculture and Livestock in June 1980.
“My interest in agriculture landed me at Vudal Agriculture College where I did six months of theory and six months of practical experience at the Korofeigu cattle range in Eastern Highlands.”
His job was to test the soil, find the crops suitable for it. He served there for 10 years.
In 1991, he became the Southern regional coordinator for smallholder markets and food supply project, based in Goilala, Kaintiba, Rabaraba in Oro and Milne Bay.
“We were helping the least developed districts to plant crops that have potential to address malnutrition which was prevalent that time.”
Rural transport was the real challenge as getting crops to markets was difficult.
They were working hard at it until the Bill Skate-government abolished the programme. Geoffrey was without a job for a while.
But in 1997, the Eastern Highlands government re-engaged him to look after agriculture in the Kainantu district. He was given various government positions such as program manager district agriculture, district administrator, district planner and police reservist.
He was involved in the extension of the oil palm plantations in Talasia, West New Britain, the Hegaturu oil palm extension programme in Kokoda, Oro and oil palm extension in Central.
“I was then the land utilisation officer and Southern region coordinator for smallholders markets. Any good programme seen to be benefitting the people should not be abolished. Review the performances whether it has achieved any objectives or not before the Government can make a decision on it.”
He called on departments to allocate funding and resources to public servants to perform their duties and responsibilities.
“I want to see the Government have an effective monitoring and evaluation system to measure and equate tasks with money and resources allocated.”
Geoffrey is now the Kainantu town manager. They are receiving grants from the national and provincial governments.
“The municipal services in Kainantu town depend entirely on grants, otherwise nothing is flowing as many basic infrastructures are falling apart.”
Town Mayor Densa Yubiko and Geoffrey managed to save enough money from royalties paid by the K92 Mine, the developer of the Kainantu gold mine.
“After two years, there was enough money to buy a new dump truck to assist in the town garbage collection. We are really thankful to the K92 Mine and mayor for the effort to develop Kainantu town.”
As he approaches the end of his long career, Geoffrey wishes he could have done more for the people if provided the resources he needed.
“Public servants are always ready and willing to deliver services but the Government delivery mechanism has never been active to ensure money and resources reach public servants living and working with the people.”
He hopes that will be changed.