By JAMES G KILA
USINO-Bundi electorate in Madand is surging ahead full-steam with a good number of impact projects previously unseen or unheard of.
Some of these projects include a sports stadium at rural Walium district headquarter, a modern health centre at Usino and a new Usino-Bundi district office complex currently under construction.
These developments are indications of a positive societal change for this one-time ‘back-page’ of Madang province which is now a much-talked about district in Madang and PNG in terms of better service delivery.
It took a short time since a visionary navigator in the form of local MP, Jimmy Uguro took over as the Member of Parliament for this rural district of Madang.
This was the general observation by a ward councilor during a recent meeting with MP Uguro at the Usino LLG council chamber.
The ward councilors said that for over four decades no elected leader had spared some time to visit and sit in with them during a council meeting.
He said for the current Usino-Bundi MP and Education Minister Jimmy Uguro to spare time within his busy schedule to attend a council meeting was very significant and showed rare humility.
This same ward councilor recalled that in the early 1960s and 1970s he accompanied his father to Usino and saw a white man named Bruce Jephcott arriving in a Landrover station wagon or by horse during rainy seasons just to sit in and listen to councilors.
It was also during that era when the iconic Australian country singer James Blundell ‘was living and working on the land’ at Jephcott’s cattle ranch at Dumpu, near Usino station.
Most of the Usino LLG councilors who attended the meeting also spoke highly of MP Uguro as an innovative person who has initiated some tangible projects for his people in only his first term in parliament,
Minister Uguro was invited by the president of Usino LLG, Peiwa Aimai to witness the presentation of 34 lawn mowers to all the wards in the LLG.
The lawn mowers were purchased from royalty allocation to Usino LLG from the country’s first nickel/cobalt mine developer in Madang province, Ramu NiCo Management (MCC).
The LLG has also used royalty funds from the mine to purchase rice milling equipment for all council wards and handed out K3,000 to all councillors to support small projects at their discretion.
Usino LLG is amongst three others in the electorate, including Bundi and Gama, as well as Saidor and Astrolabe Bay in Rai Coast district which receive larger slices of the royalty payments from the Ramu NiCo project.
As per the Ramu Project Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) seven per cent of the total for every royalty payment is allocated to the other 14 LLGs of Madang province to be shared equally. This is considered a rare kind of royalty sharing which might not exist in other project areas.
Ramu NiCo anticipates that when paying out royalties the company is willing to work in full consultation with the State, Madang provincial government, LLGs and landowner associations to ensure a smooth and efficient operation of the project and that would maintain the constant flow of such benefits.
Aimai, when acknowledging payments to other LLGs, challenged the 14 LLGs outside of the Ramu project area to utilise the royalties they receive wisely to establish impact projects for the benefit of the people.
Aimai said they should also make it known to the people in their respective LLGs that they were receiving royalities from Ramu NiCo and the people must be aware of that fact
However, Aimai said the invitation to have Minister Uguro meet with the Usino LLG councilors was to give assurance to the ward councilors of the Government’s commitment to the lower tier government
The MP had earlier met with all ward members from Gama LLG in Madang town upon their invitation and also met with councilors from Bundi LLG.
During the meeting with Usino LLG members, Minister Uguro reiterated the National Government’s commitment to free education in the 2022 academic year. He emphasised that the Department of Education would take the burden off parents due to the impact of Covid-19 experienced in the last couple of years
Another important announcement Uguro made in the Usino LLG chamber was that from next year each ward in Usino, Bundi Gama would be allocated K10,00 each to support councilors in their respective community projects in the villages.
This is to complement the commitment by the National Government to have all councilors included in the Alesco pay-roll next year.
Minister Uguro also took time to explain to the Usino councilors work currently being done on the new Usino-Bundi office complex at Walium district headquarter.
The work is being carried out by 3Days International building construction company based in Madang,
“We are moving away from the guest house to a state-of –the art office complex, from a temporary lifestyle to a permanent lifestyle,” Uguro said.
The new Usino-Bundi office complex will cost approximately K2.5 million. The funding is from the district development authority. The National Gaming Control Board has contributed K200,000 to the project through the support of Prime Minister James Marape.
The new office complex at Walium would be a double-storey building with 22 office spaces to cater for the MP, the district admninistrator, the district treasury and other sectors, as well as a conference room.
The new Usino-Bundi district office complex, a new stadium at Walium plus a modern health facility at Usino are examples of the kind of initiated by a leader who is taking his mandate seriously to deliver goods and services for the benefit of his people and improving their general wellbeing.
Uguro, in his capacity as education minister, also took the opportunity to explain to the Usino councilors that free education was one of the Pangu government’s key focuses for 2022 which was aimed at ensuring all school-aged children attended classes from elementary level to Grade 12.
Uguro reiterated that the Government would focus on improving access, quality and affordability to education at all levels from primary and secondary education to technical and vocational training (TVET) institutions, colleges, universities and other higher learning institutions in the country.
Uguro told the Usino councilors that 2021 was a challenging year for all but he encouraged them not to be bogged down but look forward to 2022 with hope to achieve their goals that have been set.
He encouraged the councilors to be community-oriented and not self-oriented
“As what Dr Kombra (Education Secretary) likes to say: ‘Together we can make a difference in providing accessible, affordable and quality education’.
“Likewise, everyone including the Usino councilors and every able man and woman of this country can contribute his or her time wisely with goals to achieving a better quality of life for the people of this beautiful nation Papua New Guinea,” the minister said.
There is always a bright light shining at the end of the tunnel, like in Usino-Bundi, once considered the back page of Madang.
- James Kila works as a supervisor with the public relations section of Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd in Madang.