By ZACHERY PER
FOR years, the people of Okapa have had to see their good quality coffee go to waste because of lack of proper road network to transport their produce to coffee buyers in Eastern Highlands towns of Goroka and Kainantu.
The road network in Okapa, built in the colonial days, has fallen into disuse due to lack of maintenance.
Successive governments and members of parliament have turned a blind eye to this potentially rich but remote district.
Now, armed with the district services improvement programme (DSIP) funds, Member for Okapa Bonney Oveyara plans to improve the road and bring change to the district.
Mr Oveyara was in the area on Tuesday to announce his plans for the electorate.
He began his tour of the district at the eastern end at Barabundora Community School with a ground breaking ceremony to clear up the road connecting Noraenda in Obura-Wonenara electorate and Amaira in Okapa district.
He also deployed a bulldozer which has already begun to clear the road.
It will be complimented with a backhoe machine and dump trucks to continue with the road works in the area.
“I am starting at east of Okapa at the beginning of this year, and should end at west of Okapa by the end of next year,” he told the crowd, who had gathered for the ground breaking ceremony.
Mr Oveyara said the Government was giving too much attention to developing non-renewable resources such as gold, copper, oil and gas, and had neglected renewable resources like coffee and potentially rich
agricultural areas like Okapa.
He said Okapa, Obura-Wonenara and Kainantu areas were some of the districts in the country that produces a lot of coffee, but their economic potential had been hampered by the bad road network.
“I appeal to the National Government to fully fund road projects in this area.
“Coffee and other agriculture produce will continue to sustain us long after oil and gas are gone and we need to start developing this products,” Mr Oveyara said.
He hoped to open up roads from east Okapa to West Okapa via north and south Fore including the remote Gimi local level government area.
“I urged you not to play politics with the projects as it will greatly impact on the livelihood of the people.
“I also want you people to take ownership of the initiative and the developements in your area,” Mr Oveyara said.
He said public servants, politicians, National Government and the people must combine to make this become a reality.