By HELEN TARAWA
HUNDREDS of people welcomed Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and representatives of the four nations funding the K3 billion PNG electrification partnership programme to Okapa, Eastern Highlands yesterday to get the project off the ground.
Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis, Japanese Ambassador Satoshi Nakajima, New Zealand High Commissioner Sue Mackwell, and United States Ambassador Catharine Ebert-Grey travelled with O’Neill to witness the outcome of an agreement signed by the leaders of the four nations during the Apec Leaders’ Summit last November in Port Moresby.
O’Neill said the rural electrification programme was an important project. “I’m happy that the locals have come to show their support. Our economy is unable to meet our needs and our population is growing fast,” he said.
He paid tribute to Papua New Guinea’s “traditional development partners” for funding such a huge project.
Davis said the programme partnership would benefit the people. “Access to electricity is essential to PNG.
With electricity, services can be better delivered to the people,” Davis said.
Mackwell said New Zealand would spend K150mil on the programme.
Nakajima said Japan looked forward to working in partnership with PNG and other partners on “this significant project”.
Ebert-Grey said she was excited because her country had an important role in the partnership. The programme will be extended to Sam Valley in Enga and Usino Bundu in Madang.
Meanwhile, O’Neill said Chinese company Shenzhen Power was working with the Kumul Consolidated Holdings and PNG Power to build the second hydro-power station in Ramu. It would cost around US$800 million (about K2645mil).
He said after four years of “intense negotiations between PNG and Chinese officials”, Cabinet last Thursday approved the project.
O’Neill said power produced there would be primarily sold to both Wafi-Golpu and Ramu Nickle.
By HELEN TARAWA