BY JEFFREY ELAPA
ATTITUDE may be one factor that supresses local businesses although they can be competitive.
While Papua New Guineans have the potential and capacity to be competitive in the business world, jealousy, incompetence and laziness among other factors have been our biggest challenge.
Papua New Guineans have been their own enemies as they cannot be competitive in the business world, although a few have been successful.
In the construction business for example, many have failed to be competitive against foreign-owned businesses because they often do not deliver as expected.
Funds are made available for projects in the hope that those projects get delivered on time and meet set standards. However, when they are not delivered, it defeats the purpose of promoting nationally-owned enterprises, setting a bad precedent for other companies that bid for future contracts.
For instance, construction work in the nation’s capital has always gone to foreign-owned companies because of the attitude of locally owned businesses who have often run away with the money without delivering projects or sometimes give excuses and do substandard and incomplete work.
This may be perceived as a generalisation but that is what the city authorities see and have experienced over the years.
National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop admitted during the opening of a road in Tokorara suburb last Saturday that national companies have never been given major contracts in the city because they either did incomplete work or simply ran away with the money, while foreign-owned companies on the other hand, delivered to the expectation of the NCDC.
However, that perception has changed with the delivery of a world-class suburb road in the city.
The construction of the Dorido Road rehabilitation project in June Valley, Tokarara has restored some lost confidence when the contractor delivered one of the best designed roads that meets international standards. In fact the completed road is said to be comparable to any found in the Western world like Australia, United Kingdom or United States.
The construction of this 1.4km road at a cost of K4.8 million has now raised the reputation of local companies in the construction industry against established foreign companies.
Funding organisations want value for money and expect quality projects delivered on time. Major projects worth millions of kina have been given to local companies in the past but they have not been faithful to the contract agreements and have not delivered what was expected.
Despite the past bad experiences, the NCDC awarded the contract for the Dorido Road to a national company with the belief of empowering local entrepreneurs under the Government’s Take Back PNG matra.
Governor Parkop said foreign companies were given preference over national companies because of the difference in attitude. He said national companies needed to work hard and improve standards and become competitive to win contracts.
After witnessing the opening of the 1.4km road linking the Dorido and Mapa residential areas to the new Koura Way road, Parkop believes that nationals can also deliver services of high standard.
Mobile Works Limited, a local engineering and construction company built the road in five months at a cost of K4.8 million.
The quality of work delivered by Mobile Works has now changed the negative perception that nationals cannot produce results, or are not competent and do substandard work.
Not only was the company able to deliver high standard road works but it also employees Papua New Guineans under the supervision and management of other Papua New Guineans.
The company was registered in 2012, and is based in the NCD.
It employs about 60 people, in surveying, engineering, workshop and maintenance, administration, accounts, safety and quality control and in the construction crew.
Parkop said this was not the first road Mobile Works limited has worked on as they have constructed the foundation of the by-pass road at Taurama which Global construction is now working on.
He said Mobile Works did the bypass without payment when soldiers decided to stop the public from using the military barracks as an access to the Taurama Beach.
Parkop said during the opening of the road witnessed by cheering residents who have now a world class road into their community that Mobile Works has proven that nationals can deliver results.
“Today we can see that we can do it too, we can be competitive. From here on we must do more and be competitive, we must deliver quality results on time.
“Many times we Papua New Guineans criticise foreigners and other companies operating in the country. We engage foreigners because they work hard, they prove themselves and they deliver although some of them do not meet standards.
“It is our own fault that majority of the economy is controlled by foreigners but today I can see that nationals are stepping up and Mobile Works is one such company and this should be an example for us Papua New Guineans,” Parkop said.
He said he was aware that about 75 per cent of the youths from that area were employed by the company to construct the road and he urged the residents to take ownership of their own hard work.
Parkop said they took the time to open the road because it was a quality road built by youths from the suburb, both the skilled and unskilled, who had gained valuable on-job knowledge and experience while working on the road.
He recommended Mobile Works to other district development authorities and provincial governments to engage the service of the company if they wanted value for money, given the result it has produced.
City Manager Bernard Kipit said Mobile Works has delivered one of the best roads and met NCDC engineering requirements.
Kipit said Mobile Works Ltd was engaged in line with the government’s vision on encouraging local participants in major development projects and to prove to them that they can deliver.
“Yes, we see that they are competitive, they have produced a world standard road. We are satisfied that they are competitive with foreign-owned companies,” he said.
This is now a challenge for other national companies to perform and be competitive in the industry by raising the bar to an expected standard so more contracts or awarded to nationals.
Dorido community leader Nicholas Pakewa said the project has uplifted the status of the community and restored pride in the residents.
Speaking on behalf of the residents, Pakewa thanked Parkop and Kipit for the improvement brought into the area as that would surely change the mindsets of the residents.
Mobile Works General Manager Emmanuel Aiyopi thanked Parkop and the city authority for recognising the comppany, who then engaged youths from the suburb to give them a second chance in life to be trained in the civil works programme of the project.
He said producing results with quality was what they emphasised as Mobile Works aimed to be a competitive local company in the road works and engineering business in the country.
The company has a national content plan that is focused on empowering and providing opportunities for Papua New Guineans.
They want to recruit and train locals to join the company in its efforts to produce quality results so that becomes part of thier culture in the future.
Aiyopi said the company was focused on becoming one of the best in the road construction business by developing a good team of employees who can produce expected results.