Road to the Min people

Weekender

By ADRIAN MATHIAS
NORTH Fly in Western and Telefomin in West Sepik have a lot in common as neighbouring districts, one of which is the Min people occupying the two districts.
Telefomin is entirely inherited by the Min people but North Fly’s Min are the Faiwol people of Olsobip and Star Mountain LLGs.
It is fitting for the two districts to work together in areas of mutual interest in their region.
As neighbours and with the help of key partners like Ok Tedi Mining Ltd, North Fly and Telefomin can advance for the better.
And one recent achievement is the construction of Tabubil-Olsobip-Telefomin road project, which is currently underway. This road is a long overdue project that had taken decades to deliver.
I first wrote about this road project in 2012 in an attempt to get authorities to act on it and get it funded. The story was published on Sept 14, 2012 in The National’s Weekender edition, entitled ‘A way out of Olsobip.’
In that story, I wrote about the plight of the Olsobip people, the lack of transportation access in particular, and their sheer determination in having a road for themselves.
Project coordinator at the time, Dimus Daksep (now manager OLLG), said, the road project was much-talked about for the people in Olsobip for more than a decade. This dream of building a road began in 2007 when the Fly River provincial government endorsed the road proposal for Olsobip. This was to give Olsobip easy access to the main urban centres of Tabubil and Kiunga.
The road was one of the major impact projects undertaken by the Olsobip LLG back then after a feasibility study in 2007.
However, due to lack of political will and support, the road was never completed after having only 8km or so, with a funding K600,000 in 2012. It was left in limbo and gradual wear and tear from the merciless mountain weather for the past six years has rendered that work useless.
For the poor Olsobip people, their dream for the road became shattered; their hope stalled, but was never erased.
Fortunate enough, the road had recommenced in May of this year with the official launch and opening of the bridge across the Migal (Ok Menga) River in Tabubil, witnessed by some key government ministers including Minister for Finance James Marape.
It was the change in political leadership in Telefomin and North Fly district in Western, that got this road project to restart. Thanks to Member for Telefomin and Minister for Defence, Solan Mirisim, for pushing this road agenda in the Government circles in Waigani and in the National Parliament after he got elected in 2012.
Mirisim was adamant in getting this road ahead in the last Government but, was delayed until this year, and the works has eventually recommenced with funding from the National Government and OTML’s tax credit scheme.
Mirisim was re-elected last year to realise this road for his people of Telefomin and their neighbouring Min tribesmen and Faiwol people of Olsobip LLG in North Fly. It is now Tabubil-Olsobip-Telefomin road project.
Also, the election of James Donald as Member for North Fly was crucial in getting the long overdue projects done, including this road project. This road project is among a host of other impact projects that the North Fly MP is expected to fund and deliver in his term in office.
They include Sisimakam-Ralengre road, Alice Pit (Ningerum)-Yetetkun (West Papua) road, Okma-Tabubil bridge, Western rice project in Kiunga and East Awin, and a teachers college in Kiunga. Donald’s leadership is therefore crucial for his district which the successive governments had let down.
For Tabubil-Olsobip-Telefomin road, Donald’s office has allocated K2 million and K1 million had already been paid to the contractor Ipwenz Constructions Ltd with the balance to be paid soon.
Donald, through his DDA board, would continue to support the Member for Telefomin with the funding until this road project is completed.
It is without doubt that Mirisim and Donald would work together and drive the road project to fruition. Once complete, it will link Olsobip and Telefomin to the main service centres of Tabubil and Kiunga in Western.
It is a road to the Min, and should rightly be named the Min Highway when complete.

  • Adrian Mathias is a freelance journalist.

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