The National, Thursday July 5th, 2012
By MALUM NALU
RAMU Agri Investments Ltd (RAIL) is building two satellite towns – “estate villages” – at Surinam and Dumpu in the Usino-Bundi area of Madang province, past its sugar town of Gusap.
Quality housing is being built for staff, complete with trade stores, community centres and sporting facilities.
This is all part of the multi-million kina expansion of oil palm in Ramu Valley of Madang province and adjoining Markham Valley of Morobe province after having its product rated as among the best in the world.
These projects include the biggest-ever 440km-long irrigation project in Papua New Guinea using water from the Gusap River, a second mill at Dumpu, and getting more outgrowers from Ramu and Markham valleys.
Dumpu estate manager, Lama Kuri, told The National during a recent site visit that palm oil planting in Dumpu started in 2006 and 2007 on the site of the cattle ranch of well-known former Madang politician, the late Sir Bruce Jephcott.
“This used to be a cattle area that was run by the late Sir Bruce Jephcott,” he said.
“When palm oil development started, we started moving all the cattle out to Leron Plains Cattle Ranch in the Markham Valley of Morobe province.
“We’ve got a total of 2,157ha here.
“We’ve already got 27 new houses on site, with 16 new ones coming up,” Kuri said.
“We’ve got two divisional managers, four field supervisors, one estate clerk and one junior clerk.”
He said they have a total of 360 employees on the estate.
“Most of our employees are from the local area, with others from Madang, Eastern Highlands, Chimbu, Enga, Southern Highlands, Morobe and other provinces.
“We give priority for employment to locals from around the area.”
Children of all employees at Dumpu are transported to and from school at Gusap every day by 25-seater buses owned by RAIL.
Kuri is excited about all the developments taking place in what used to be grassland and cattle paddocks in the past.
“It’s like a town here,” he said.
“It used to be grassland and cattle country before.
“When I first came here, there was only one house, which is my house.
“I see a lot of houses coming up now.
“Many people are making positive comments about the place.
“We will have trade stores, community hall, clinic, street lights. It will be a town of its own.
“Our employees are very happy to live on site.”
RAIL general manager Jamie Graham told The National that a new oil palm mill was also planned for Dumpu.
“We’re also planning a new mill to be located near Dumpu,” he said.
“We would hope to start by the end of 2013.
“We would hope to have that in operation by the end of 2015.”