From MALUM NALU in Kokopo
The much talked about private public partnership (PPP) has taken a completely new turn for remote Pomio, East New Britain province, one of the most-undeveloped areas of Papua New Guinea.
Tolai businessman Eremas Wartoto, owner of the SWT Group of Companies, has purchased equipment worth K15 million to bring development to Pomio, starting with the development of the 26km Uvol ring road.
The road will be constructed at a cost of K4 million from Pomio's K10m district support improvement programme.
The equipment - consisting of two wheel loaders, two motor graders, two rollers, two loaders, a piling machine, a barge, seven dump trucks, a bitumen spray truck, two water trucks, a dump truck, a concrete mixer, two prime movers, two trailers and a crusher – were launched in Kokopo on Saturday in a ceremony witnessed by Pomio MP and National Planning and Development Minister Paul Tiensten, East New Britain Governor Leo Dion, community leaders and members of the Kokopo and Rabaul business community.
Mr Wartoto, a self-made success story who is one of the biggest contractors to the Lihir gold mine and who owns Kokopo's Queen Emma Lodge among his many businesses, said there was only one way to go in the province and that was south towards Pomio.
"There is only one way for East New Britain to go, and that's towards the south coast," he told an appreciative crowd.
"You can't go back to the volcanoes (Rabaul)."
Mr Wartoto said political stability at both national and provincial level was vital for economic development.
"I can see some stability in this government," he said.
"As long as there is a good relationship between the Governor and the MPs, we can make this province become a role model for the rest of the country."
Mr Tiensten admitted that Pomio was a very difficult place to develop because of the topography and terrain, and up to now, the only roads in the area were those built by logging companies.
"Pomio is a very difficult place to develop because of the topography and terrain," he said.
"If you're talking about road accessibility, you're talking about millions.
"The topography and terrain has made Pomio an impossible place to get into."
Mr Tiensten said the PPP policy reflected the changing mindset of the government towards development of the country.
"PPP is a major policy of the government," he said.
"In the past, government tried to do everything without business houses or the churches.
"We must all work together as we are all trying to serve the same person.
"Governments in the past have failed.
"That's why we started this PPP policy.
"The establishment of this ring road is a breakthrough for Pomio.
"I want to thank logging companies like Rimbunan Hijau for helping to develop Pomio.
"By next year, you can drive from Kokopo to Tol, and on to Pomio."
Mr Dion commended Mr Tiensten for his leadership at both national and electoral level.
"I agree that to develop Pomio is very difficult," he said.
"No contractor was willing to go there because of the risks.
"I'm glad that this bold decision has been made to get this machinery into Pomio.
"It's a challenge, Minister, and a challenge to the contractor.
"It's a challenge for the people to have a road in reasonable time.
"It's been a problem but now we have a solution to this.
"I thank the Pomio people for unlocking and releasing your land for development.
"I believe that this operation in Pomio will succeed in the shortest possible time."