By MALUM NALU
Sleepy Daru town, disparaged as one of the least-developed in PNG despite being in the province of the giant Ok Tedi mine, came alive last Friday with the launching of over K100 million worth of projects by PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP), The National reports.
These included the K40 million Daru Airport upgrading with the first-ever Air Niugini flight in 12 years last Friday, K10 million Daru wharf trestle, K52 million water and sewerage project, and K15 million first stage of deep sea port.
These projects are at various stages of development and form part of PNGSDP’s overall effort to create an alternative economy for the Western province to replace the contributions of the Ok Tedi mine.
Regular Air Niugini flights are expected to start later this month, Daru wharf trestle is expected to be completed by August, water and sewerage project is expected to be completed by next June, while first stage of deep sea port is expected to be completed by December 2012.
PNGSDP chief executive officer David Sode took along with him representatives of the World Bank, Australian High Commission, Air Niugini, PNG Ports Corporation, Water PNG, Curtain Brothers, and National Airports Corporation, among others, on the first-ever Q400 flight to Daru to witness the launching.
|Sode…’projects will completely transform Daru’.-Nationalpic by MALUM NALU|
Western province Governor Dr Bob Danaya and South Fly MP Sali Subam were also present on the day
“These people (guests) are here today because they believe in Daru,” he told a fullhouse crowd at the United Church grounds in Daru.
“We have all the wealth, and if it is distributed properly, we will have all the reason to be happy.
“It is very important that people have a part to play in the development of their resources.
“Local people must be participants in their own resources.”
Sode said the opening of these projects would open the floodgates for many development opportunities in Daru, and in preparation for that, PNGSDP – as the major shareholder of Ok Tedi Mining Ltd – would be putting a lot of emphasis on elementary education in Western province.
“We must concentrate on health and education to prepare the people for the big projects to come,” he said.
PNGSDO was established in 2002 by an agreement between BHP Billiton and the State of PNG.
Under this agreement, BHP gifted 52% ownership of the Ok Tedi mine to the people of PNG, especially the Western province.
With the departure of Inmet Mining, PNGSDP now owns 63.4% of the mine, the PNG government owning the remaining 36.6% - meaning OTML is 100% PNG-owned.
The company is registered in Singapore and its operation based in PNG, and has a mandate to manage its investment in Ok Tedi mine to promote sustainable development in Western province and PNG as a whole.