Friday, February 13, 2009

Grand Chief & Prime Minister Sir Michael Thomas Somare CGMC Kbe MP Commissioning of the Gabansis/Moneyau Road, Buang Local Level Government (LLG), Bulolo District.

I was thankful that the Right Honourable Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare accepted my invitation to be our guest of honour to the commissioning of the newly constructed road from Gabansis to Moneyau.
The road will actually cut off two hours travelling time from Buang to Lae without negotiating rivers, the road was also the cry of Buang people during election time from which I took head on to deliver in within my eighteen months in office as their political representative.

The Road was funded partly by the (DSIP) K150,000.00 and the MPG Funds Vote 711 K100,000.00 which was also shared equally on the existing Mumeng to Wagau section of the road (about 70km) with the latest new 35km road. The project took almost five months to complete with about half of stand-down time as the Omsis ranges always have heavy rainfall every second day which makes construction very hard.
It was however calculated that if we would have used a private contractor we would have spent more, I will give us some calculation here;
5 months equals approximately 145 days so a contractor will do the following charges -
a) Bull Dozer hire D6 @ K600.00 per hour x 1 unit x 8 hrs x 145.00 = K696,000.00
b) Dump Truck 3 ton hire @ K150.00 per hour x 3 units x 8 hours x 145 days = K522,000.00
c) Backhoe @ K450.00 per hour x 1 unit x 8 hours x 145 days = K522,000.00
d) Mobile culvert welding/tyre center machine
@ K100.00 per hour x 1 unit x 8 hours x 145 days = K116,000.00
Vat 10% 185,600.00
Total Invoice -------- K2.041,600.00
Less current spending 250,000.00
Savings made K1.791,600.00
The concept used in our Bulolo District Road Maintenance Program (BDRMP) is by taking a private sector approach minus the profit factor and maximising the savings to roll out more projects. In regards to the above costings the operations took seven days to run each month but in actual fact we do not have K2.m to spend on private contractors you see the system I am using is good for other members of parliament to adopt, the hardest part though is keeping your supporters and the district staff hands and influences off the operations and let the program manager as stipulated under his contract to run the operations just like any other private companies.
Our program managers contract includes a house from which we used our Bulolo District Building & Maintenance Program (BDBMP) to construct, a vehicle, good wages and school fees and he practaly works seven days a week when operations are in full swing. The BDBMP manager is also on a contractual position.
The only failure we have is that the District Treasury do not have proper qualified accountants and they also do not understand the promptness factor, they have created much of unessesary delays and they still are.
For example, we are now almost in March and my district treasurer and his accountants are still sleeping they haven't produced any cheques and my road and mobile health programs have come to a halt, I am now forced to sack my office staff in parliament and hire an accountant which will cost me more (partly paid from my wages) but I have to do it as the District Treasury has failed me miserably, I will get my accountant to run my own cheque requisitions and an updated daily ledgers to cross check agains the district treasury.
My protest has been made to the Provincial Treasurer Mr Peter Numesh and he is doing something about it. One problem that I have also realised is that the District Treasuries including the overall government system have to close for a whole month (Dec-Jan & even Feb) to do a roll over, I think the overall government accounting system has to be overhauled, today we have very sophisticated accounting software available for such a use, you just press a button and the roll over will authomatically take place for district in a good five minutes and not a whole month, good gracious me when will this change !!! we are in the twenty first century. If I am going to be in a stronger position in politics in the future this change will be hot on my agenda to introduce and change.
On Friday the 13th February, 2009 the Prime Minister and his delegation flew into Lae from Port Moresby in an Air Niugini Flight PX 100, there were some mis-information of his coming to Lae via Kumul Aircraft but we later learnt that the Kumul Pilot was sick so the PM had to use the commercial flight.
I caught a lift from the Morobe Provincial Administrator Patelius Gamato and Bob Aaron (A True Morobe Group Rep)to the airport expecting the PM’s arrival to be at 0830hrs, we suddenly realised that the PM’s convoy was already departing Nadzab and was heading into Lae from the Nadzab entrance, the PA did a U-turn and we followed the convoy back into Lae.
During the convoy back into Lae I soon realised the importance of having a police escort because the police escort were caught off guard and the PM’s convoy was without a police escort. We truly have some cowboy drivers in Lae who don’t give much attention to VIP escorts as we were approaching eight mile into Lae the traffic congestion grew bigger and we all had a hard time negotiating careless drivers, a funny thing happened when we passed an escort party of three vehicles who did their hazard signal but there was nothing important that they were escorting, I had a laugh about that.

When we arrived at the Melanesian Hotel I went in to meet the PM he was cool we sat down and had a cuppa and I briefed him of the days events until the PM’s organisers told us that the helicopter was ready to depart. We were lucky that day the helicopter we were to board has two pilots with dual control and the PA Patelius,Bob and S Singin (PMs delegate) were also lucky, they managed to catch a ride on the other helicopter that was heading towards Bulolo (FOC) .

The weather was just fine dispite heavy rains last night we all headed to Buang and the other chopper offloaded PA’s team at my Buang house and I ask the Helicopter Pilots that the PM and myself were in to do a run over the newly constructed road for the PM to see and then to the new proposed bridge site at Jamundanga Village and I explained to the PM that that was also our main obstacle in the area. When there is flood everything stops in Buang so it was very important that I have to share this information with the PM.

We then turned back to my village and the pilots managed to squeeze the helicopter into my carpark area and we were received by the Segayo Singsing Group and we all gave a little speech and headed into my house launge for breakfast, (The breakfast was prepared by a Buang Chef we drove him into the village a day earlier with supplies)

Picture left- Prime Minister and I having breakfast in my Buang House.

The highlight of the breakfast was the Buang Coffee.

Picture left - is the display of freshly roasted (Organic mind you) coffee beans with the Capuchino Machine in the background in my village house bar.

During my December 2008 holidays at home I went to Mapos one and ask a coffee plot owner Mr. John Siling and I managed to buy a 20kg parchment off him and got the Segayo village girls to manually peel off the dried coffee husks to create green beans from which my wife managed to roast with enough quantities for my Lae and Port Moresby house and it is my special treat to any visitors at my house.

Picture left – A close up of the roasted beans.

The coffee has a strong aroma that no coffee lover will pass by without having one.
Well I think the PM was impressed with my coffee promotion.

Picture left – A close up of the finish product Buang Capuchino.
Present at breakfast was PM, Morobe PA, Bob, Singin, the pilots, PMs Media unit and myself with Segayo councillor and elders. We spend a good one and a half hours when time caught up with us to move on to our next program in Moneyau Village.
Patileus and Singin team took off first in their vehicles while the PM and I took off by helicopter from my house to Moneyau Village which took us less then five minutes.
Opon the approach we could see an X marked with a light coloured soil to indicate our landing position which the pilots easily negotiated.
On the ground we were greeted by the Buang elders and brought to the grand stand by a spectacular Buang traditional singsing group. The program started with a short service conducted by a church pastor and straight into the speeches.

The Buang people also have their fair share of the early Pangu Party days so a few days earlier I asked the Moneyau elders to put a brief history together and was presented during the ceremony by Mr. Voutas Tuwut, the PM was very delighted and he whispered to be about the talent the presenter (Mr Vautas) displayed that could have easily earned him a honorary award in Political Science.

Picture Right – PM making a point about the Pangu Party history in Buang and Morobe during a speech by Mr Voutas Tuwut.
(The presentation will be posted here as soon as the Moneyau elders make a copy available)
The early Pangu days was build around Mr. Tony Vouters who has represented the early Bulolo Open known as Kaindi Open Electorate and Pangu gained its support base in Morobe in the 70s and the 80s which saw Pangu scored all the ten seats in Morobe. Ben Dangu,Boyamo Sali, Jerry Nalau, Mathew Bandumb were some of the morobe names thrown around during the speeches.
The Buang LLG president gave his speech and emphasised strongly for the people to take ownership of the new road and to stop hand out approaches to the leaders and again PM really supported the call.
I gave a short speech about the generousity PM has to respond to my call especially being an opposition Member of Parliament and to take time to come into Bulolo as his schedules are always busy and I am very honoured for him to come.
The respect the PM has shown is of a fatherly figure to us all the young MPs both in the government and the opposition, I was also honoured to have some time with the PM as he is also a living history of PNG politics.
Picture Left – My speech photo.

I also explained to the people that the main reason for the PM to officially launch the road program was that the people should see for themselves the man behind the allocation of the DSIP funds that is now benefiting the districts, the people must see him and appreciate the decision which has attracted many criticisms from the private sectors and the NGOs.
The Buang people clapped and cheered to the PM, and I think all Mps both from the opposition and the Government should make this known to the people. It really depends on each individual MPs on how they want to deliver services and we all know that everything in private or public sector is open to abuse and in politics we have elections every five years to replace or return leaders and people must really judge and make their honest decisions through the polls if leader do not conform to their expectations.

Picture right – Grand Chief & Prime Minister Sir Micheal cuts the ribbon to declare the Gabansis to Moneyau Road open.

The PM cuts the ribbon and gave his speech about Pangu days and Buang connections. He still rembers Mr. Benny Dangu (Deseased) and Mr. Tony Vouters contribution. The PM's official speech is as follows;

People of Bulolo,

As you all know your province and Buang are of special significance to me and I always have a home coming feeling when I am invited to your district and Province.

I know your member Hon Sam Basil knows this and I thank him for the great honour of allowing me to return and witness the opening of the Gabansis/Moneyau Road – a short cut road for the Buang people.

It also gives me great pleasure to see young Members of Parliament like Hon Sam Basil take a government initiative like the funding of district roads and make it work for his people.

It is a success story for PNG as a whole. Your member has proven that the government initiative of putting money straight into the districts can work for everyone’s interest.

Several years ago the government initiated the programme of sending money straight into the districts for these types of projects in the areas of road maintenance, health, law and order, water supply and education.

Government allocation into each of these sectors has increased quite substantially and the total allocation to all districts is K356million in the 2009 budget. If used correctly we will see vast changes in our districts and country as a whole.

The completion of this road also reflects the fact that the member Sam Basil and his Joint District Budget Priority and Planning Committee are working well together. I commend you all for putting the interest of your district ahead of other considerations.

We must learn to work together for the common good and again I commend your member who although he is part of the Opposition, he can put political differences aside and serve his people first as he has done today.

It is important in the type of system of government that we have chosen that we have checks and balances; that opposition is there to check if the government is doing what it should be doing.

But we must not let this difference cloud our vision of prosperity and development for our people.

I thank the people and member for Bulolo for the example that you are showing of working together to move our country forward.

As you may have seen or read in the news, last week, my long time opponent and I Sir Julius shook hands and have agreed to work together. This is important for national politics but good also for the people of New Ireland.

I will be going back to Port Moresby but I will be attentive to how the District of Bulolo will move forward in the next couple of years. I want to hear that with this road maintenance programme more access roads are built in the district.

I already know that your member has been working hard since coming into office and I ask the people of Bulolo to assist him in bringing more developments into your area.

I want you to make this new road your road. This road is funded wholly by the PNG government without any overseas assistance. While we are thankful for overseas aid and our donor partners, I want you all to know that we are also doing things ourselves today.

We are not here to wait for others to help us. For this reason I want people of this country not just Bulolo to start taking responsibility for your own community infrastructure like roads, classrooms and other public amenities.
Picture above – PM being presented with a Tulip Bilum by a little Buang girl after his official speech.

Do not allow bad elements to put the safety and security of our people in danger. Equally, do not allow others to hold your communities at ransom over constant compensation demands.

If we keep asking for hand outs today, what resources will we use to build the future?

I therefore urge you once again to make sure this road serves you to bring services to your people and for you to bring your produce to the market place.

You have great opportunity to make money on your own land and roads provide the way to achieving that outcome.

While other countries today are experiencing a global recession, we in PNG have been very fortunate. We must use these small advantages to propel ourselves forward.

Therefore this occasion today is significant and important and I thank you once again for the invitation to be here today.

May God bless you all.

After the speech PM has committed some funds to help the Buang people and the commitments are as follows; K2.1m for the Buang Bridge, K50,000.00 for the four Buang Schools, K5000.00 for the completion of the Buang delivery ward and finally the PIP program funding for the feasibility study of Wau/Garaina and Tapini Road connecting Port Moresby.

With those commitment I can truly say that we have made some savings from the remaining DSIP funds to expand into other outstanding programs that we fell short with, the PM has shown his true fatherly leadership which will inspire me for a long time to come there is no opposition or government in his thoughts, we are all proud Papua New Guineans and I am proud of that.

Picture left – PM and myself during lunch.
After the events we were invited to a lunch at the Biankoun Parish Office and we all proceeded to the area and had lunch while my LLG presidents were given chances to mingle directly with the PM. (Morokoi Gaiwata – Garaina LLG, Steven Sep - Buang LLG, John Yawa – Wau Rural LLG and Mathias Phillip – Mumeng LLG) .
One thing I have realised about the PM is that he has the touch of the grassroots people and can blend easily with them through his speeches and also socialising after the event. He is ready to take on any challenges and apply the peoples way to solve their issues.

The spectacular day ended so quickly that I have to escort the PM back to Lae terminal on the helicopter while the other party drove through the newly build road which took them a little bit more then an hour and half to reach Nadzab from Buang.
I spend a good hour and a half with the PM discussing issues affecting PNG and I had some very pressing questions about PNG politics answered in fact I got some good lectures from him about problem solving and handling of issues the PNG way.
Mr Singin and the PM's team arrived in time just when the PX 108 arrived and we all farewelled the PM and left.

Thank you Grand Chief I learnt a lot about you that day then in Parliament every leaders have their own styles but the grassroots touch holds the key into the peoples heart and he has it by the basket full.

The day was very well appreciated by everyone !

The very next day Saturday 14th February 2009 I checked the new road and saw some sections which will be worked on as soon as funds become available the sections are situated within the 35 km section of the new road, the old cemetery and the sako garden towards Moneyau need a opening and gravelling.

I have to get my family out of the car to negotiate the slippery section of the roads, as I always do check out the projects myself and recommend fixtures.

Picture left- My sons Rumauarii, Mounanui and Masket out of breath walking up the hill after I managed to take the vehicle up the slippery road.

Picture left – My wife, sons, daughter Rahves and I, on the spectacular background look out over looking Lake Wanum towards Markham Valley from Buang.

Picture left – Moneyau Villagers walking to Lae through the new road that morning.