By GIBSON GEORGE TORASO
ONE of the two local level government areas in Enga’s Wapenamanda district, Tsak Valley is abundantly blessed with fresh vegetables, sugarcane and native pigs.
The pigs play an important role in the valley of more than 50,000 people in terms of paying bride price, compensation, marking important events like birthdays and others.
Since independence, Tsak people had a dream for a good road access so that would provide better market choices for their produce to increase business activities to improve their standard of living. For generations, some perished with their dreams while others cling onto it to see it come true.
In the 1980s and 1990s, there were few government agencies existing while most of the health and education services were provided by the Lutheran and Catholic churches. A rural road network programme under the then provincial government system meant that missionaries, public servants and locals had a good access road despite of trickling services.
The people’s lifelong aspiration for a better Tsak was shattered when two big clans of Warenge and Pausa clans in the Yambaran tribe engaged in a war. The conflict broke out in 1989 and spread to other neighbouring tribes which affected the flow of services. It stopped all services into the LLG and the resulting struggle was the beginning of a long journey in search of a better life and services.
The bloody tribal fight went on for five years and claimed many lives and properties, displacing innocent mothers and children. When the conflict stopped in 1994, services were unheard of in the valley with the main road link to the outside world in worse condition than before and continued to deteriorate. Travelling by PMV to Wapenamanda station had been a nightmare for Tsak people while most folks preferred walking.
Despite the conflicts and struggle, it was Tsak people’s steadfast dream that they would one day travel on a sealed road and get their homes lit with electricity. The struggles had never stood in the way of their dream for better roads, education, health, electricity and other services after the 2012 national election.
Tsak people believed that Wapenamanda had elected a visionary leader in Rimbink Pato into parliament. They believed in his leadership and expected him to perform to deliver for the district and Tsak Valley to fulfil their dream.
Pato, now serving his second term, wasted no time by launching the Mukurmanda-Tsak Road project sealing. The project, reaching the heart of Tsak Valley, is complete.
The Tsak electricity programme by the Enga provincial government is also completed while the hydro project will have the capacity, when completed, to service the whole district and other parts of Enga.
For people in the valley, they are delighted and grateful that their steadfast dream had come true for the first time in 44 years. Expressing the gratitude to their MP, a young leader and board member of a charity organisation involved in partnering with the district, aid agencies and development partners, thanked Pato for his leadership.
Warenge Komba Foundation Inc board member Amos Taso expressed their gratitude for making their lifelong aspiration in delivering a sealed road a reality. It would benefit generations to come.
“It’s been a practical fulfillment of our dream in addressing our growing concerns regarding the quality of infrastructural development in Tsak Valley,” says Taso.
“Your recognition of the importance of this aspiration, which affected the livelihood of the people across the constituency and your timely intervention have led to improvements that will positively impact everyone in Tsak.
It’s you, Rimbink Pato to whom we owe you our deepest gratitude.”
Taso said Pato had committed in delivering development since he become MP in 2012. He said the people have confidence in his leadership to make Wapenamanda a model district in Papua New Guinea.
“You have secured the mandate to develop Wapenamanda and Tsak for a prosperous and promising future,” Amos said to the MP.
“We are glad the light has just shone. You have just created a legacy that will be left for a lifetime. Our fathers had that dream. They aspired for a brighter future. They dreamt that one day the Tsak Road would be sealed. They hoped to see power lines coming through.
“They had longed to see real infrastructural developments that could improve the welfare of the people.
“Some perished while others clung onto the dream to see it come true. Their excitement had no limits but grew stronger and stronger day by day.
“The anticipated day has just begun (in Tsak Valley) while Rimbink Pato is at the helm of change. As the phase of development draws nigh, we feel that at last we could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“Thank you so much for making our dream come true and making it come true in such a wonderful and lovely way.
“We have felt that moving out from the darkness to catch the glimpse of light is a real milestone in this generation – a greatest achievement.”
Taso said despite of varying political views and affiliations, Tsak people would work with the MP to ensure vital services continue to flow into the local level government area.
He said people of Tsak and Wapenamanda were pleased to have a charismatic leader who recognizes the fundamental need of the people.
Taso said Tsak portrayed the tangible development everyone in the district admire to cherish on.
“It gives me immense pleasure in extending gratitude to the honorable member. It is my privilege to have such a performing MP at such a time when the time is no gloomier,” he said.
“I perceive this opportunity as a big milestone in our pursuit. God bless your leadership as you continue to serve the people of Tsak and Wapenamanda.”
For a generation who had experienced the struggle, the developments were services one could not ignore to be appreciative and thankful.
The people in the valley wearied by years of neglect, are starting to realise and accept that things really are brightening up and could be the signal for life-changing times ahead for them.
A fundamental change is happening in Wapenamanda and Tsak Valley.
For the people it is like a benign Pandora’s Box has been opened. With more children being able to go to school, better health services and easier and safer travel now possible, the more than 70,000 people of Wapenamanda can contribute meaningfully and not feel so isolated anymore.
For their MP, change is already happening.