COMMUNITIES along the Kokoda track will close the year happy with a cash payment of K358,788 they received from the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA).
This was announced by the chairman of KTA James Enage after the management committee meeting in Port Moresby last Wednesday.
He said the money was given as cash payment with K250,200 for the tourism services funds, K22,000 for village track maintenance agreements and K86,588 for wages for the capacity building programme for this year.
“This is the first year that the communities have received direct payments through the wards with the money reaching the people in the villages,” he said.
He said: “These amounts total of more than 30% of all trek fees collected by KTA and demonstrates their commitment to the local communities.”
Mr Enage revealed also that the tourism services payments were equally distributed among the 14 wards from Kokoda to Depo as direct cash benefits from the trekking industry.
He said local communities will use the funds to carry out projects of their own.
Meanwhile, the direct cash payments are done to village track maintenance agreements to individual villages along the track who undertake maintenance work along the track.
And the capacity building project has trained 44 locals in six different villages in skills required to carry out track building tasks in a sustainable manner.
Mr Enage said the benefits showed KTA was moving forward and working in close partnership with the local communities and tour operators in delivering great experience to trekkers.
“It is a meaningful benefit to communities and we are proud of the assistance we are providing to them,” he said.