Nomad gets mobile coverage

National, Normal

The National – Tuesday, June 14, 2011

FOR the first time the Biami people of the outback Nomad area in Western will have the world at their doorstep, thanks to the Papua New Guinea Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP).
Chief executive officer David Sode said by the end of the year, “the entire province will have 100% mobile and telecommunication network coverage”.
Officially launching the province’s telecommunication project at the Mogulu station last Monday, Sode said it was part of Western Power’s telecommunication roll-out programme at a cost of K70 million solely funded by PNGSDP.
“Within the next six weeks, we hope to have the province 100% covered by telecommunication services.
“We will build 85 telecommunication towers that will make Western have exclusive communication network co­verage,” Sode told more than 1,000 Biami people who gathered to witness the launching.
The project is part of a three-way partnership among Western Power, Digicel PNG and PNGSDP.
The 85 telecommunication towers will be owned by PNGSDP through Western Power while Digicel will build the towers.
Sode said that for the first five years, Digicel would be leasing the towers.
He said other mobile operators could use the towers and network as well.
He said PNGSDP was owned by people of Western as a vehicle to drive development there.
Sode said the telecommunication towers were one part of a programme to make communication services readily available for the people.
“When the giant Ok Tedi mine is closed, we don’t want to have a bare land,” he said.
“We want to build infrastructures that will remain with us and can sustain the people of Western after the Ok Tedi mine closure.
“We give them tools and they sustain themselves.
“We don’t encourage the free hand-out mentality that has become the norm in PNG,” Sode said.
He said PNGSDP worked with churches and their agencies to bring development.
“All the health and school facilities in Western are funded by PNGSDP through a partnership arrangement,” Sode added.
He brushed aside critics who have been saying PNGSDP was not doing enough.
“These critics cannot prove anything. If they think we are not doing enough, they are welcome to see our annual reports”.
He said PNGSDP “is the biggest local development partner” to the government.