Govt paid K400mil for roads: PM

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PRIME Minister James Marape says his Government paid off K400 million to complete the Yalu Bridge-Nadzab section of the Highlands Highway.
In a statement yesterday, Marape said the Government paid the outstanding debts to contractors on the 9-Mile to Yalu Bridge section and the outstanding PNG counterpart funding of the Nadzab International Airport.
He said the roadwork came under the Government’s “Connect PNG” programme in which he said K2.4 billion had been expended over the last three years on roads throughout the country – K1 billion over last two years and K1.4 billion this year.
Marape said his Government also set in motion plans for the building of Nadzab satellite city to complement major developments will start over the next couple of years.
“The first section of the Lae-Nadzab Road from Bugandi to 9-Mile was dogged with controversy of inflated prices about 10 years ago,” he said.
“After it was completed, work on the next section from 9-Mile to Yalu Bridge was on an ad hoc basis, which saw the road deteriorated.
“It was only after my Government came into office that we were able to retire all outstanding debts to contractors for the 9-Mile to Yalu Bridge section to be completed.
“Cabinet in January approved awarding of more than K1.4 billion of new road contracts throughout Papua New Guinea.
“Among these is K400 million for the Yalu Bridge-Nadzab four-lane highway.
“For more than 10 years, the people of Lae, Morobe and PNG have been complaining about the bad roads between Lae and Nadzab.
“I am well aware of your cries as I, on my many visits to Lae over the years, have driven through the mud and potholes. I can assure you that you will have one of the best roads in the country when the Yalu Bridge-Nadzab section is completed.
“People will be able to travel in comfort from Lae to Nadzab, and then get on an international flight once the new airport is completed.
“This is the same story with the Japanese-funded Nadzab International Airport. The project was signed for in 2015 but never got off the ground because the O’Neill regime never provided the required counterpart funding.
“It was only after my Government came into office in May 2019 that we provided the necessary funding for work to start on the airport.”
Marape said Nadzab, Lae and Morobe would boom with the sealing of Yalu Bridge-Nadzab section of the Highlands Highway, opening of Nadzab International Airport and building of Nadzab Satellite City.

Ex-Nauru president to lead C’wealth election observer group

FORMER president of Nauru Baron Waqa will lead the Commonwealth Observer Group at the General Election 2022 (GE22).
The Commonwealth Secretariat, in a statement on Friday, said it had deployed the group on the invitation of the Papua New Guinea Electoral Commission.
Commonwealth secretary-general Patricia Scotland constituted the 10-member group of observers that Waqa will be leading.
The group is expected to arrive in Port Moresby on June 28 and stay until the completion of the electoral process.
The group will be deployed throughout the country and supported by a team from the Commonwealth Secretariat led by Linford Andrews, head of its electoral support section.
The deployment of the group was preceded by a pre-election assessment team that visited the country in March.
Scotland applauded PNG’s resolve and commitment to holding the election despite the many challenges that came with “undertaking an activity of such immense value”.
The observer group will witness and consider all aspects of the election process – from the opening of polling stations and the voting process, to the counting of ballots and announcement of results – and determine whether the elections were conducted in line with the democratic standards.
As per the group’s mandate, observers will act impartially and will adhere to the standards of the international declaration of principles for election observation, to which the Commonwealth is a signatory.
The group will issue an interim statement of its preliminary observations and hold a press conference in Port Moresby post elections.
A final report, which will include recommendations to help improve future electoral processes, will be presented to the national government and PNG Electoral Commission, and will also be shared with other stakeholders.

Markham RO confident of smooth polling

THE election for the Markham open seat will progress smoothly after the establishment of its election steering committee, a district official says.
Returning officer Willie Pilailo said the steering committee was already discussing election activities going on in the district.
“My team is ready, we already established a steering committee and we’re moving into discussing the election activities that are going on and will be happening in the district during this time, to make sure we have a smooth election processes,” he said.
Pilailo said plans for polling and counting had been drawn up and they were only waiting on funding from the Electoral Commission.
“Everything is arranged from logistics to security,” he said.
“We are prepared and ready,”
Pilailo said despite election related fighting last week in Huon Gulf that had resulted in a death, Markham was calm and peacefull.
He appealed to candidates to educate their supporters on the electoral process, especially the voting, and to ensure peace was kept.
“Educate your supporters so they know what election is all about, this is very vital for all of us, we must all play our part to deliver a safe and smooth election,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pilailo added that police presence in the electorate had also helped minimise on law and order issues relating to the election.

Sia promises free education for Eastern Highlanders

EASTERN Highlands regional candidate Simon Sia, running on People’s National Congress party ticket, has made an election promise to provide free education in the province.
“If I win, my number one policy is free education for all Eastern Highlands students,” he said.
Sia, a naturalised PNG citizen, said human development was important for economic growth.
“Small-medium enterprise, health, agriculture, law and justice and transport infrastructure are the other important focuses,” he said. Sia had contested in the past elections and had finished among the top five candidates.
“I am not asking you to vote for me,” he said.
“I am asking you to vote for good and matured leadership.
“If you think I have the maturity, you vote for me, if not, vote for someone else.
“But let me tell you that I am not interested in money.
“I call Eastern Highlands my home, there are many problems and issues facing us, things are not right, I want to fix them.”

Woman candidate wants to build trust, promote human resources

A FEMALE candidate in New Ireland wants to build trust and promote human resource growth in Kavieng.
Maryanne Millie, an independent candidate contesting the Kavieng Open, says her goal is to create a unified electorate with development plan based on collaboration and transparency.
“The challenge for politicians in this era is that we have a declining trust in government and institutions across the country,” she said.
“There has to be effective communication between the people and the district development authority.
“There has to be transparency in every process, when awarding contracts, engaging service providers, our efforts should be clear and well understood by all stakeholders and we should avoid any hidden agendas.”
Millie, who is the wife of former Kavieng MP, the late Ben Micah, said she wanted to contribute in getting more women into decision- making roles.
“One of my goals is to create mentoring and training programmes to get women involved in politics so that we can work towards achieving long-term goal of equal participation of women in politics. Leaders in the past have built institution, systems that worked and kept our districts, provinces and country going,” she said.
“If elected these institutions will be preserved and protected in order to continue development in the province.”