Neglected Sembirigi airstrip hampers service

Letters, Normal

The National, Tuesday October 29th, 2013

 ALLOW me to air my views regarding the most publicised trip that Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his delegation took to Semberigi for the handover of the Gulf-Semberigi road. 

I am proud that the CEO of this country has made history by going to a very remote place such as Semberigi, which is a neighbour to his electorate. 

The Semberigi airstrip has contributed to the education of some prominent people in the public and private sectors. 

It has also contributed to the development of the Gobe oil fields. 

The airstrip land was paid with Stg50 in the 1960s and it was constructed using local labour. 

It was maintained once through a K300,000 tax credit scheme with the village people providing the labour and assisted by a  bobcat in late 2001.

But it deteriorated after only two years of service and commercial aircraft have since refused to use it on safety grounds.

For the sake of the Semberigi community, I arranged with Airlines PNG to serve  the people on their route to Mt Hagen via Kerema and Kikori. 

No funds have been allocated for maintenance of the airstrip through the Gobe Moa although it is the only infrastructure that allows Semberigi people to reach the outside world. 

Almost K200  million has been spent on the sub-standard Gulf-Semberigi road, which was delivered to the state recently. 

We must not pass the buck as the most needed service  – the airstrip  – was closed down in 2008 and has been neglected. 

Petroleum Resources Gobe (PRG) which should be allocating funds from the 30-60% withheld payment of royalties and equities, has neglected it although both the managing director and chairman are from Semberigi. 

The Gobe PDL 3 and 4 IDG for 2012 and 2013 amounting to K16.4 million has not been allocated for projects. 

The prime minister’s trip would have been more fruitful had he committed these funds.  

Should we call 2013 the year of implementation or the year of waiting?


Concerned Samberigi man, via email