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Papua New Guinea

Mud, mud and more mud

LIFESTYLE

By JOSEPH KENAE KA’AU
IF YOU are still deciding on which exotic location to visit next in Papua New Guinea, may I suggest, Baimuru in Gulf.
It is exotic because not many people know about it, unless you are from Baimuru itself or from Yangoru in the East Sepik. There is also a Baimuru in the Sepik.
It is even more exotic now because it is the seat of government of the local level government which will house the developer of Papua New Guinea, the Papua LNG project, signed off in April this year.
It would be an ideal location for the Prime Minster and his Cabinet to meet now to elaborate on the review he ordered on the Papua LNG Project. Because it is from Baimuru, that the gas and oil for the project will be extracted. Cabinet will make a better decision after experiencing first-hand what the people of Baimuru are facing.
Here are some thoughts to prepare you for the meeting.
Having travelled to my village of Bekoro, Gulf, at least once a year over the last 18 years I was not expecting anything different when I stepped of the dinghy at Baimuru station, the seat of government and the main business location for the Baimuru LLG area. Such stations were formerly known as sub districts. My village is across the river from Baimuru.

The manager’s house which has remained unoccupied for the past decade.
The incomplete Baimuru district office.

The mud would be the same. First it was knee deep on the banks of the Pie River and then every step of the way throughout the station, at least 20 centimetres deep. The mosquitos would be there and an occasional crocodile as well. The grass around this Papua New Guinea government station would still be tall (about a metre tall).
Sixty years ago an overseas advertisement for church workers in Baimuru described the area as an area infected with mosquitos and crocodiles with mud all around. It still is today.
The progress of Baimuru to date in terms of development is almost invisible. In this age of electronic and digital interactions one would expect some of this to rub off to Baimuru. Not so.
Notices for the recent local level government election were handwritten. Computers, printers and photocopiers have not reached Baimuru as yet. That’s how backwards or maybe forward Baimuru is.
The airstrip has been closed for some time now and the grass on the runway is a metre tall. The construction of the new government office complex started some years back. The foundations still stand. Materials for the completion of the building are rotting and rusting next to the foundations.
Public servants’ houses, mostly built during the Australian administration, are falling apart. The house of government, the LLG chambers is condemned and is not fit to be used.
If this is the scenario at the LLG headquarters, what would you expect in the wards? You just have to travel across from Baimuru to the nearest ward, my village, Bekoro. Yes, you’ve guessed it, it is worse.
So what have the politicians representing Baimuru, the member for Kikori and the Gulf governor done to develop Baimuru over the years? The current MPs have only been in office for two years. So maybe to pass some judgement on their performance would be unfair.
But the former Kikori MP served for three terms (15 years) and the former governor served for two terms (10 years). Both of them are related to Baimuru through their marriages. You can work out the DSIP and the PSIP funds received by these two MPs, in tens of millions of kina.
None of all these money seemed to have been spent on Baimuru and the wards within the LLG. You cannot point to one thing in Baimuru that is benefiting the people and attribute it to both former MPs. Absolutely nothing.

A message from Mariki Primary School to the developer of Papua LNG.

Prime Minister, you said in your maiden speech in Parliament that you wanted PNG to be the richest black Christian nation on this planet. Baimuru is raising its hands now to help you achieve this dream of yours.
Now with the deal done on the LNG project, the people of Baimuru expect the best. For a start, a fully equipped health facility, new accommodation for public servants and a capacity to move around town without having to worry about the mud.
Following closely would be the construction of a high school for Baimuru and a functioning all-weather airstrip. Maybe the airstrip should be the priority, in case the PM takes up the offer to visit Baimuru.
If the airstrip is not ready, maybe a four-hour trip by sea from Kerema would indeed give the PM a reality check.
Either way, do not forget to bring your gumboots. The mud will still be there. Plenty of it.

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