By MALUM NALU
Reelected Lae Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Alan McLay says expansion and consolidation of the manufacturing sector are among major developments in Lae over the years.
He rates continuous power blackouts and communication problems as among the major problems that have beset Lae.
McLay has been chamber president since 1995.
|Alan McLay…concerned about power and communication problems in Lae|
He is assisted by senior vice-president Nigel Merrick, junior vice-president Robert Howden, immediate past president Phil Franklin, treasurer Stephen Beach, and councilors Kaity Bluett, Dennis Brewster, Terry Fuery, Ben Woo, Andrew Gunn, Peter Diezmann, Danny Kepi, Vanessa Chan-Pelgen, and Tony Wyatt.
MccLay said manufacturing was a feature of Lae.
“Up till the late 1980s, most products were imported in a finished form,” he said.
“They were warehoused in Lae and distributed to the markets, with over 70% to the Highlands.
“Hence, Lae had large wholesalers such as Sullivans, Associated Distributers, Steamships, Colins & Leahy, etc, which have all gone.
“Now most imported goods are components, which are then packaged or finished here in Lae by manufacturers.
“This means more investment in Lae, more employment and consolidation of businesses.”
Power and communication problems worry McLay.
“Lack of planning and installation of reliable back-up generators has left Lae short of good quality power,” he said.
“The aging generators at Yonki have become unreliable due to lack of serious maintenance over the years.
“Now the 78 megawatt output from the Yonki installation is insufficient to supply the network: Lae, Madang, Kainantu, Goroka, Kundiawa, Hagen, etc, as well as the new commitment to provide power for Hidden Valley.
“The Milfordhaven and Taraka power stations do not even provide half the city’s power needs, which means power has to be rationed in load shedding exercises when Yonki is down.
“The real bad thing about insufficient power is that the power is poor quality, with huge spikes and fluctuations, which causes damage to modern sensitive equipment.
“The private sector has had to armor itself against the constant outages and spikes, by installing costly standby generators, and power protection devices.
“I am waiting for PNG Power to brief me on their plans to construct what I believe will be a new 40 megawatt sub-station at Singaua and plans for a hydro scheme between Lae and Finschhafen.
“This will of course relieve the power problems.”
McLay said reliance on mountaintop repeater stations had caused communications outages over the years, which culminated in two weeks of near total communications blackout in January this year.
“With the decrease in tariff duties by customs, our manufacturers have to increasingly compete on the international market,” he said.
“With poor communications and power, how can we do that?
“Fortunately Telikom are running fibre optic cables on power pylons – first to Madang which will be finished by May.
“This will see Lae connected to the international gateway in Madang, and will be more than a back-up to the current system.
“We anxiously await this installation.”