MP wants more airstrips in province

National, Normal

The National,Monday 11th of February, 2013

GAZELLE MP Malakai Tabar wants the East New Britain provincial government to seriously consider adding more airport/airstrip facilities in the province.
Speaking last Friday at Vunakanau in his district, he said these included a service to the Pomio district to avoid what was presently due to ash fall at Tokua Airport and disasters through sea travel. 
He said people from Pomio did not have a chance to travel back to their district as there were no reliable airstrip facilities to cater for smaller aircraft.
“They have no choice but to remain in Kokopo,” Tabar said.
He said the area used to have several airstrips, enabling services of smaller aircraft.
“We seem to be going backwards. Airstrips that used to operate are no longer working and many lives are being lost at sea.”
Tabar said that because there were no air-travel people were forced to sea-travel and faced higher risks of disasters. 
“We have the knowledge and the money but we are still losing lives at sea,” Tabar said.
He said the provincial government and administration should consider rebuilding an airstrip at Palmalmal in Pomio.
Ash fall at Tokua Airport from the Mt Tavurvur volcano forced its closure earlier, inconveniencing a lot of people, and Tabar urged the influential people and concerned stakeholders to join hands and make plans for emergency airports urgently.
“If we do not put priority on an alternative airstrip and when the volcano erupts and north-westerly winds blow, Tokua will stop and the province will come to standstill – banking and the mailing system will
be disrupted.”