Papua New Guinea
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Fund MAF rural taxi service to develop remote districts

Every year, a small mission airline lifts thousands of coffee bags from some of the remotest locations in rural PNG to the nearest towns for sale.

The Missionary Aviation Fellowship’s small planes are often referred to as the rural taxi services.

The rural countryside farmers depend entirely on this taxi service to get their produce and products to market.

To the sick, lame, expectant mothers, outback schools, students, teachers, pastors and their churches in the bush, the MAF is their only link to the outside world.

So our story on Monday of the hardships of the coffee farmers of Karimui Salt Nomane in


southern Chimbu province does ring a bell.

The MAF does uplift coffee parchment from KSN. But of late, most of the airstrips in that area are closed.

This gives us a clear picture of why the people of KSN have always relied on their coffee mule trains to move their cargo from Karimui to Chuave for sale in Kundiawa or neighboring Goroka.

One may wonder why the road access to Karimui Salt Nomane is poor? One may also wonder why there has never been a proper road built into KSN despite the Somare Government committing K20m in 1994 and the O’Neill government further making a commitment of K20m ten years later?

What have the past MPs of KSN done with their K10 million District Services Improvement Program funds? Has there been any money spent on road building in this district?

Yes, we acknowledge that the terrain is extremely mountainous, but we believe that technology and road building machinery is far better than 50 years ago.

Now back to the air. The government and its Rural Airstrip Agency have a partnership with MAF to survey all rural airstrips in the country.

The MAF uses its planes, pilots, even engineers to assist RAA to carry out this task, which is arduous, hazardous and can be dangerous, depending on the weather and location.

While, in general, we applaud the Marape Government for its Connect PNG national highway project, even that has some of its proponents being questioned for their authenticity to deliver on millions upon million.

In the meantime, while we await the dozers crisscrossing the rough terrains, we urge the Marape Government to seriously subsidise or fund the MAF rural taxi service as a priority for rural farmers.

When we empower the rural farmers by giving them the means to export their coffee, cocoa, tea, kaukau, taro from the rural outposts to the towns and cities will we see development in the remote districts.

This will entice vagrants in cities and towns to return home to their land. The rural urban drift will be reversed.

The government continues to place emphasis on agriculture to drive our economy. But it must also support the stakeholders to achieve this.

MAF is one such stakeholder who operate on a shoestring budget every year. They have always served the people on the wings of a prayer.

It’s time for the government to acknowledge the input of the churches and their little single engine planes and float planes who bring relief and happiness to our people.

The government knows it cannot reach remote communities. But it can partner with MAF, Adventist Mission, Lutheran Mission, Samaritan Aviation, who own and operate planes, to deliver government services to rural areas.

Forty-eight years of carrying farm produce on their backs and trekking through mountains and valleys should end by September 16, 2025 when the country turns 50.