Logging company builds road into forgotten PNG frontier region

9:50 am on 18 December 2018

Local leaders in Papua New Guinea's Aitape-Lumi district say a road linking remote inland communities to the north coast will help people build livelihoods.

The new road, which links Serra Point to Lumi in West Sepik province, also includes seven steel bridges over local riverways.

It's been constructed by a West Sepik-based Malaysian Logging Company, Samas PNG Ltd, as part of its development obligations to the province.

The road that links links Serra Point to Lumi in West Sepik province

The road that links links Serra Point to Lumi in West Sepik province Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Melvin Levongo

The road is projected to open up development and services for people of South and West Wape local level government (LLG) areas.

The road project was officially launched in Lumi by the Aitape Lumi Consolated FMA Chairman Anderson Mise in front of a crowd of over 1,000 people

Also in attendance were officials from PNG's Forest Authority, Department of Works, representatives of Samas PNG Ltd and other dignitaries.

Mr Mise began his speech by thanking local people who attended the event, some having walked for days and hours just to witness the ground breaking occasion.

Once the new road is operational, people will have less reason to have to walk many kilometres to access basic services which have for many years been lacking in this part of PNG.

Mr Mise, who said the road will reach Lumi station by the end of next month, urged local people to support the logging company as it works to comply with its development obligations in the area.

It is anticipated that the population of over 6,000 in West Sepik's South and West Wape LLG area will finally have access to government services and an important trade route through which to sell their cash crops.

A high school principal in remote Lumi district, John Tesa, said it will open up new opportunities.

"We have no road link. People carry sick people on their shoulders. They die on the way, return bak. Cash crops like cocoa and so on get wasted in the bush, we have no road whatsoever. People have seen this road and regard this road as the most important development in their lives," Mr Tesa said.

High school principal in Lumi district, John Tesa (with phone)

High school principal in Lumi district, John Tesa (with phone) Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Melvin Levongo

Andrew Aupo from the National Forest Office said It's an impact project so the project should bring development to the project area, for which he said the district must thank the company for making it a priority.

He said the PNG Forestry Authority was happy that the company has complied to one of its major infrastructure development obligations, but that it still had others to meet.

Mr Aupo also advised local landowners who earn royalty money through the logging project to use their money wisely.

Meanwhile, the president of East and West Wapei LLG, Robert Kasong, said he wants the road linking the back pages of Lumi to go through without disturbance, and further added that timber levies have changed lives of people.

He also appealed to the PNG Forest Authority that local people support the Malaysian Company Samas PNG and Chairmen Anderson Mise because they have brought service in and giving hope to the forgotten people.