Power firm lights up highway villages

Normal, Papua

The National – Monday, July 4th 2011


LIFE for people in the corridors of Tabubil to Kiunga Highway and other remote villages in Western will be made easier after Western Power Ltd, a subsidiary of Papua New Guinea Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP), connected electricity to their villages.

Since the rural electricity programme began in 2009, many villagers have seen an improvement in their lives and people who had been living in jungles are now coming back to the road corridors to have access to services.

In a visit to the Gregas village, Tutuwe trust electrification project outside Kiunga, the people of 29 impacted villages along the highway said they had experienced many changes in their lives after getting access to electricity from Western Power.

Ward six councillor in the Kiunga rural local level government, Rex Tewinai, said before the rural electricity project was implemented, villagers along the highway lived in the bush.

“Now we are moving back near the roadside where we can access electricity. 

“This will then encourage us to build permanent houses and im­prove our livelihoods and our children will have light for studies for the first time since the Ok Tedi mine began operations.

“We are grateful for PNGSDP and chief executive officer David Sode for having the foresight,” Tewinai said.

Western Power general manager engineering and operation, Joe Bariamu, said the rural electrification projects used diesel generators.

Bariamu said it was very cheap, at a cost of K1 per kilowatt, while the PNGSDP subsidised 80% of other costs.

He said 31 projects had been completed in 31 villages and two mission stations, with more than 15,000 people in the Kiunga LLG covered. 

Sode said the idea behind the rural electricity project was to run rural energy and communication in the province to sustain the community in the long-run after the mine closed.

He said it was part of the company’s vision to give tools back to the communities to build themselves and the PNGSDP had already committed K21.5 million for the electricity project annually.