The National, Thursday October 17th, 2013
CONSTRUCTION of a road leading into the Sepik Plains to cater for the proposed multi-million kina oil palm project in Yangoru-Saussia district can start following the allocation of K5 million by the government yesterday.
Minister for Trade, Commerce and Industry and Yangoru-Saussia MP Richard Maru presented the funding to the Works Department to begin road works immediately.
The road will connect Nagam village to the Sepik Plains, in the Saussia local level government.
Presenting the cheque, Maru said construction of the road was important in light of the remoteness of the Sepik Plains.
He said the government was interested in the land on the Sepik Plains because it had over a million hectares of prime agriculture land.
Maru said the Sepik Plains represented the biggest land asset in the country and its potential had yet to be harnessed.
“In the past 10 to 15 years, there has never been a major agriculture investment project in the country,” he said.
“The government approved a NEC submission two weeks ago to kick-start the project.”
He said the government, the East Sepik provincial government, the investor, Wilma International Ltd, Yangoru-Saussia district and its people would be shareholders in the project, which is expected to generate 20,000 jobs.
Wilma International Ltd is Asia’s largest agriculture company and operates in 50 other countries.
The Speik Plains project is 44 times bigger than East New Britain oil palm project.
Maru said Wilma International was a globally reputable company and had a policy that guided it in preserving the environment and it did not allow logging when operating.
He said the government was anticipating signing the project agreement at the end of next month, depending on the completion of roads and other essential services in Yangoru-Saussia district.
Maru said K500,000 in this year’s budget had been allocated for infrastructure development in Yangoru-Saussia district. Roads at West Yangoru are expected to be completed by end of this week, while road works will start from Kusambuk to Parina.
This follows the presentation of K1,000,000 to the Department of Works by the Government.
Maru said after the roads were completed in Yangoru, work would start in the Saussia local level government.
“I have put in a request to the government under the 2014 budget to connect all the roads in the district to the Sepik Plain area by next year.
He said K10 million would be allocated in this year’s budget and another K10m the following year.
The bridges at Bararat and Handara will be built by next year.” he said.