Thursday, March 22, 2012

PM stresses need for good leaders

Source: Post Couirer, March 21, 2012

The Hiritano Highway starts from Port Moresby and ends at Kerema town, making the capital of Gulf Province, the only provincial capital in Papua New Guinea to be connected to the nation’s capital.
The highway is being rebuilt and very soon, the trip between Port Moresby and Kerema will take about three hours, a big improvement from the five hours it is taking at present.
“We will make sure that the highway will be sealed to prevent soil erosion and damage due to the constant rain. Once the highway is sealed, it will last for sometime,” Prime Minister Peter O’Neill who flew into the town on Monday told a gathering of up to 3000 people.
The rebuilding of the highway is not the only good thing Gulf Province has got going for itself. Ten kilometres west of Kerema town, a major infrastructure is being constructed, which is the talk of the province at present. By 2015, the first export of LNG gas is expected from the Gulf LNG project from there.
Another major project is the K2 billion Purari Hydro Project, which when completed, is expected to produce energy that will power the entire country and even Australia.
These are among several major multi-million kina projects that are in the pipeline which places Gulf Province in a unique position, like no other province in PNG.
“Gulf and Southern Highlands provinces are in a unique position. They are home to some of the world class resource projects and we just have to make sure that the benefits are managed well.
“Look at Southern Highlands. It has been exporting oil for the last 20 years but there is nothing on the ground to show for it. This is because of poor leadership,” Mr O’Neill said.
Mr O’Neill may be making a general comment but his comments rang true for Gulf. Political infighting between various political leaders over the years has taken its toil on the province.
“Our leaders are not working together. The two Open MPs are not working with the Governor and the Local Level Governments,” a keen observer told this newspaper.
It was obvious also that the political infighting has also impacted on the public service. Public servants are divided in their loyalty and that has been the case for some time.
“We need public servants who must remain committed to their jobs and serve the government of the day. As human beings they have the right to political association but they should not bring this to work,” a senior public servant said.
Provincial administrator Orisuru Avai has a big task on his hands to hold the public service together to deliver much needed services to a province, divided by huge rivers, swamps and mountains filled with huge tracks of virgin rain forest.
“With the closure of the only bank, our people are facing a big problem. Small businesses are closing down because doing business in Kerema is tough,” Mr Avai said.
For a province that has produced two prime ministers, two governor generals and a lot of highly educated men and women, the struggle to break free from the “least developed province” tag is continuing.
Today, it has set five key goals as its pillars to come out of this struggle. They are integral human development, health and education, social welfare, economic and infrastructure development.

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