Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dream comes true

By ISAAC NICHOLAS in The National, Papua New Guinea’s No. 1 daily newspaper


THE Hela and Jiwaka people’s dream for their own separate provinces became a reality yesterday when Parliament voted 83-1 for the two new provinces to be carved out from Southern Highlands and Western Highlands by 2012.

The Southern Highlands will lose the gas-rich Hela region, while the fertile agriculture area that is Jiwaka will no longer be part of Western Highlands.

Provincial Affairs Minister Job Pomat said an interim administration would be in place for the two new provinces until the 2012 elections, after which they would have their own full administrations.

When the euphoria of welcoming the two new provinces dies down, the tough task of drawing their boundaries will begin.

In the oil and gas-rich Southern Highlands, it will be tricky which side of the boundary Kutubu, Moran, Gobe and even Juha gas field will be placed. Some of these people and their leaders may want to remain a part of Southern Highlands.

Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, who pushed for the creation of the two provinces, drew praise from Highlands leaders from Enga, Western and Southern Highlands who turned out in force late yesterday for a joint media conference to welcome the birth of the two provinces.

Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru said it was the greatest gift the Grand Chief could have given them in the twilight of his illustrious political career.

“Today is the date with destiny for Hela and Jiwaka,” Mr Agiru said. “I am very happy to be part of the National Alliance Government that has honoured its commitment.”

He said the Hela people had repeatedly said “no Hela province, no gas”, but the Prime Minister had delivered both the Benefits Sharing Agreement (BSA) and now the Hela province.

Mr Agiru stressed that Hela and Southern Highlands would grow up as two sisters and equally share the benefits of the PNG LNG project.

He said there would be no competition between them and praised all his nine Members of Parliament for supporting the move because the province was so huge, with a population of 600,000.

Mr Agiru thanked the National Alliance party, its coalition partners, Mendi MP Pastor Isaac Joseph and Opposition leader Sir Mekere Morauta.

He specifically mentioned Pr Joseph because even though his party leader did not vote for the Bill, he stood up to be counted.

National Alliance deputy leader for the Highlands, Don Polye, said it was an achievement for the Government that had worked for seven years to realise the creation of the new provinces.

He said a technical working team was put together during the last government, which visited and gauged the views of the people who strongly called for their own province.

He said with the “new provinces comes the challenge to have the administration on the ground, for good leadership and to bring socio-economic development to the people”.

Member for North Waghi and Western Highlands deputy governor, Benjamin Mul, although in Opposition, supported the Bill for a separate Jiwaka province.

Mr Mul said he flew in a delegation from his province to Port Moresby and they were in Parliament to watch “live” Parliament’s approval for the new Jiwaka province.


No comments:

Post a Comment