Minister disappointed over closure

National, Normal

TOURISM, Arts and Culture Minister Charles Abel is disappointed by the closure of the Kokoda Track by Nauro villagers and Airlines PNG’s withdrawal of services to the four Kokoda villages.
After the tragic plane crash and several deaths along the trail last year, the number of visitors had dwindled and the negative developments would worsen the situation this year.
“Passenger safety in terms of air services is of paramount importance and the flights have been withdrawn due to safety concerns about the smaller airstrips.
“The Civil Aviation Authority must quickly complete their safety audit, being conducted in conjunction with CASA from Australia, so that remedial measures can be taken,” he said.
Mr Abel said Kokoda Track Authority chairman Jame Enage had met with the Nauro Landowners and they would be meeting the Deputy Prime Minister soon on mining-related issues.
He also made it clear that the Government had allocated K4 million in counterpart funding for the Kokoda initiative for 2010 to be applied with the Australian government’s consideration of the needs of all stakeholders, especially the landowners.
“A lot of effort has gone into reforms in terms of management of the track and we are finally seeing more benefits from the village people, such as the distribution of trekking fees,” he said.