By Ok Tedi Development Foundation
A new aircraft belonging to the people associated with the operations of the Ok Tedi mine touched down in Western province on Tuesday, December 18.
Facilitated by Ok Tedi Development Foundation Limited (OTDF), this brand new series 400 Twin Otter is the second airframe purchased on behalf of the 156 village beneficiaries of the Ok Tedi Community Mine Continuation Agreement (CMCA) benefits package.
|The aircraft landing at Aiambak airstrip in the Middle Fly.-Pictures by OTDF Public Relations|
The aircraft was bought at a total cost of US$7.4 million with the funding for purchasing the aircraft coming from the CMCA Trust Investment Funds.
Accompanying the aircraft from Cairns, Australia, were Western Governor, Ati Wobiro, OTDF CEO Ian Middleton, CMCA community leaders and other OTDF staff.
|Western province Governor Ati Wobiro being welcomed at Aiambak after arriving in the new aircraft.|
After clearing Australian customs at Horn Island, the aircraft made its first stop over at Aiambak in the Middle Fly district where it was welcomed by villagers from the Middle Fly communities.
Wobiro told those who gathered at Aiambak that his government was fully committed to working with OTDF and OTML in delivering sustainable impact projects to the people.
“Our people in Western province are very fortunate that we have money from Ok Tedi and we have very good managers like Mr Middleton and his OTDF team who can turn this money into something tangible,” he said.
“I know we have the right people now in leadership at the district level, at the village level, ward level and in organisations like OTML, OTDF, PNGSDP and of course at the political level.
“I’m excited because we are going to rapidly move forward.”
Middleton said this new aircraft including the first one which arrived in October this year, would be leased to OTML for 15 years.
“On behalf of the CMCA communities, OTDF has secured a 15-year master lease agreement with OTML with a guaranteed 8% return per annum for the aircraft with the Ok Tedi mine life extended,” he said.
“This will generate a valuable income source for the people’s future development.”
Aiambak village elder Fredrick Paulus thanked OTDF and OTML for investing wisely in these long-term benefits which he said will greatly serve the needs of the people.
“We are very happy because this is something that we have longed for for so many years,” he said.
The aircraft then went to Tabubil where it was received by OTDF chairman Nigel Parker, OTML general manager government and external Relations Musje Werror and staff of both organisations.
Parker, who is also OTML managing director and CEO, said the decision to purchase the aircraft would not have been possible without the vision of the CMCA community leaders and OTDF to facilitate the project.
|The aircraft at Tabubil airport.|
“These aircraft have a good 30-year life to them and I trust and hope that they serve the communities well, particularly when there’s need for medical evacuations and other community emergency needs,” Parker said.
The arriving aircraft was manufactured by Viking in Canada and is the second of these latest Twin Otter airframes that will operate in the Southern Hemisphere.