Hope for a forgotten district

Editorial, Normal

The National, Friday 14th June 2013


KOROBA-Lake Kopiago in Hela is one of the most remote and far-flung districts in the country.

Located at the tailend of the supply chain where the Highlands Highway stops, about 60% of the district is unreachable by road.

Over the years, government services and Western civilisation have barely managed to penetrate these still primitive and secluded areas. 

Places such as  Wanikipe, Usa Malili, Harinda, Ekali, Levani, Ambi Yokona, Wiski, Itureke, Awi Paka, Arau, Arereke, Tobi, Umimi, in the Hewa area are only accessible by air. 

This rugged limestone country region along the mighty Strickland river borders Lagaip district in Enga, Bak and Tekin in West Sepik and Juha in Western.

People here depend entirely on the natural environment for their survival and treat ailments with traditional and herbal medicines.  

Promises from past govern­ments, politicians and lea­ders from the area have remained just that. 

People here remain  destitute and bereft of basic services such as health, education, water and electricity.

It is a mammoth task for Hides gas project landowner leader and local MP  Phillip Undialu to bring development and change.

Undialu this week engaged more than 30 public servants in the district to travel to the 94 council wards and collect data and information from ground and ward level to aid planning and development. 

This includes statistics on sectors such as education, health, law and order, basic infrastructure and population.

“Upon their return today (Friday), they will compile the information and dovetail it into the five-year development plan and master plan for the district as currently we do not have one for Koroba-Lake Kopiago.

“The information and data collected will be vital in drawing up a proper master plan for Koroba-Lake Kopiago,” Undialu said.

Preparations for the data collection programme started with a week-long workshop in Tari conducted by consultants and staff from the National Planning and Monitoring Department (NDPM). 

Undialu met with the participants at Koroba Catholic mission on Monday.

He said he was optimistic that good road accessibility and other government services would soon make inroads into these secluded areas of the country through proper planning and funding.