AS a frequent local trekker along the Kokoda Track, I have come across logs and cane bridges being constructed on the rivers by villagers.
What they create out of natural bush materials is amazing.
It is very humbling to witness local knowledge utilised to achieve the best for trekkers.
By asking the local bridge constructors simple questions as to whether they get paid doing what they do, they all affirm that after completing the bridges, they all front up at the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) office and get paid for the work they do.
Asked about the articles in the papers about the assistance of the Kokoda Initiative and the Australian government, the locals very adamantly and stubbornly state they have never been paid by the Kokoda Initiative as stated.
They get paid at the KTA office and sign receipts belonging to KTA, and not Kokoda Initiative.
What is so frustrating is that these locally-funded projects get credited to another organisation that has nothing to do with these projects.
What I am saying here is this: KTA does everything – from utilising its rangers, to providing rations to payments, and yet Kokoda Initiative comes around getting credit for it.
Ask the village people when they (KI) last engaged in a log or cane bridge construction, and they will tell you never.
I think the KTA staff are either real fools or very blind to give information such as trekking data and photos to outsiders to make names for themselves using this information.
I intend to ask the KTA staff if what they spend on the track maintenance gets rebated, or is it just charity all the way?
What I as a local person want to know is this: What is or are the long term plans of Kokoda Initiative for the local track communities?