Truth about Kokoda airstrip maintenance

Letters, Normal

I WRITE to correct your report on the Kokoda airstrip (The National, Jan 21).
Ernie Lohberger had the Rotary Australia donated lawnmower at his engineering premises for two months awaiting Airlines PNG to arrange Twin Otter transport to Kokoda. 
When I found out that there were problems, I offered KTA and Ernie Lohberger, freight space on two APNG Twin Otters for which Sogeri Enterprises had booked and paid for Saturday, Jan 23.
These two Twin Otters and a Cessna Caravan are required to collect Adventure Kokoda’s 10 trekkers and 29 guides-carriers at Kokoda and move them to Port Moresby upon the completion of their 10-day Kokoda Trek.
Also, the article records that the present Oro provincial administrator, Owen Awaita, said that the Oro provincial government budgetted K10,000 annually for each of the seven airstrips in the province which was paid to established contractors every year to carry out maintenance at the airstrips.
Between 2004 and 2008, when I was the interim executive officer of the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA), neither the Oro provincial government nor Kokoda local-level government funded any maintenance  work on the Kokoda Airstrip. 
Maintenance was funded partly from KTA trek fee income for youth group hand cutting, lawnmower purchase and fuel, cone markers and windsock replacement, plus Higaturu Oil Palm and Kokoda Trekking grass slashing.
Where and to whom has the K10,000 a year for 2004 to 2009 budgeted airstrip maintenance for Kokoda Airstrip been paid?
Hopefully, Mr Awaita will ensure that the K10,000 budgetted for Kokoda airstrip maintenance this year will become a reality.
The Rotary-donated “Golf Club” mower will need funds for employing an experienced operator, fuel and maintenance.
Oro provincial government, please lock-in this project for the safety of the Kokoda travelling public and the overdue improved image of Kokoda as a tourism-trekking destination.


Warren R. Bartlett, former interim EO,
Kokoda Track Authority