By JAMES DONALD, MP
MANY people in PNG have to fly out of Port Moresby to travel overseas. I do that too. But, on Jan 19, this year I took an overseas trip of a different sort when I led a group of men to the Republic of Indonesia, travelling on foot.
The team comprised of Ningerum local level government president Kawuk Konmop and ward councilors, along with PNG/Indonesia border village landowners and leaders. It took us one day to enter Indonesia.
Our point of entry into Indonesia was at Yetetkun village after crossing Ok Tedi River at Alice pit (Ningerum LLG) and walking through Birimkamba, Ambaga and Butmabin villages on the PNG side of the border.
On the night of Saturday, Jan 20, we overnighted at Yetetkun and the next day we arrived at Ninati and stayed for two days for military and other authority clearance. On Wednesday, Jan 24, our group was received by the Boven Degoel Member of Parliament (Bupati) where we met and discussed on two important agendas; the G2G Agreement (Government to Government) where we sought to have an understanding reached between Western Province and Papua Province to become sister cities and collaborate in the areas of trade, education, health, cultural, tourism, and service development.
The second agenda was for a road linkage between Alice pit/Birimkamba (PNG) and Yetetkun (Indonesia), a distance of roughly17kms.
The need to connect North Fly district with Indonesia by road is seen as crucial for the district’s development aspirations.
Our team requested to engage an Indonesian contractor to commence construction of a gravel road and we’ve set a target to commence the road construction in the second quarter of this year.
Also, the establishment of border posts, similar to Wutung in Vanimo, was discussed.
The discussions went well with positive responses from our Indonesian counterparts.
The idea to take the cross-border walk is in line with a vision to build a city in the North Fly jungle.
Geographically-wise, and without doubt, this proposed city will be more accessible to Indonesia.
Our ultimate aim is that we build a city in the jungle through easy access to Indonesia than Port Moresby because it will never come.
It is indeed a struggle of mine in trying to find the shortest possible route for North Fly to catch up with the rest of the districts in PNG.
At least Western climbs the ladder to some position than being the last on the change ladder.
I know, we will drive through for this vision because these two agendas are decisions of the North Fly district development authority (NFDDA) and are being endorsed by Western provincial executive council (WPEC), and have the full support of the Governor and MPs of South and Middle Fly members.
I thank the Indonesian government for well receiving our team and responding well with positive feedback.
I also thank God for making everything possible.
To the North Fly district and Western people, we seek your support because we need to be seen progressing in all aspects of development.
- James Donald is Member for North Fly.