Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Mount Hagen City, like any other modern city, has it's own problems

Do not link Hagen to garbage. Mount Hagen city has a garbage disposal problem. And, if it has a garbage problem, in time its image will also be linked to garbage. That is the way it is. Garbage collects at Pope John Paul oval, at the Stand Bom and Main Markets, outside Tarangau Primary School and is dumped indiscriminately near Holy Trinity College, at Kim on the way to Kagamuga, at Kagamuga market and at the end of the terminal.

The Mt Hagen City Authority merely shrugs away this gross violation of its duties and responsibilities with the usual: “We lack the funding.” The buck, also as always, is passed on perhaps with some justification in this case: “The business houses, especially the locally-owned ones, are not paying their license, land tax, and sanitation and garbage fees.” The authority is owed, at last count, K400,000.
It needs K3 million annually to run municipal servi­ces. It collects some K800,000 and the national government gives it a K600,000 grant annually. So, even if it did collect the outstanding K400,000, it will be short by a sizable K1.2 million. Lack of funding has also forced it to cut back staffing so that now it has 55 employees, mainly inspectors and administration staff.

As if this were not enough, two people – Titus Doa and Jacob Michael – are currently claiming the post of lord mayor of the city, facing it off in the courts. One sees a parallel between Rome’s Nero fiddling while that ancient city was engulfed in flames and Mt Hagen’s two lord mayors fidgeting while the city gets buried in rubbish.
What do we do?

When faced with a problem, solutions often come from unexpected quarters. Mt Hagen has found its saviors in the hearts and minds of its own landowners, the churches and from its elites. A long list of volunteer cleaners has emerged over the past few months that have diligently attacked the garbage problem.

Groups have come from the Moge Kombkui community, from the Western Highlands elite group calling itself the Western Highlands Development Forum, from the Jicka Kenta community, from the Jicka Melakamb community, from the SDA church and from women and other church groups.

Slowly the unsightly garbage piles and the gross smell are being reduced. But, as quickly as they are cleaned away, new rubbish gather. But there is a slow awakening. People’s attitudes seem to be changing. They are loath to discard garbage indiscriminately as they once used to – more out of fear of discovery and punishment than a sense of cleanliness which one wishes would be imbued in their psyche from birth. Still, it is a good start.
Now to the next step – where to dispose of the garbage. The official city garbage disposal pit is at Hagen Technical College, some five minutes drive from the city. Yet, despite its relative ease of access, people are depositing rubbish indiscriminately in other places such as at the end of the airport, at Kim on the way to the airport and near the Holy Trinity College. These points are now becoming an eye-sore.

Problems also provide opportunities. It would be a good idea for landowners on the edge of the city to consider allocating, for a fee of course, waste land such as gullies or swamp land for garbage disposal. In time, the garbage becomes landfill that would, in future, turn waste land into nice useable land. It is opportune also for the city council to consider sourcing out its garbage collection and disposal responsibilities to those who can do the job.
A starting point would be the groups who have volunteered to do the job. The next issue, of course, is the safe disposal of industrial and chemical waste and of toxic waste. Used oil is being dumped at the approach to the Kagamuga Airport and some say into the Waghi River. This is an environment hazard and requires strict monitoring.

For that matter, we need to hear it from the Department of Environment and Conservation what plans there are for disposal of toxic and dangerous waste in the towns and cities of PNG, particularly those in the highlands which control the headwaters of many of our river systems.

Toxic waste in the river system will be hazardous and with the growth of industries and resources developments in the highlands, this will increasingly become an issue. Again, we raise the issue of a national waste management and disposal plan and policy.

Source: The National News

Friday, February 4, 2011

WHP passes K125.3m budget

After successfully defending a 2007 election petition before the Court of Disputed Returns for three years, Governor Tom Olga has reaffirmed his position by presenting a “historic record” budget of K125.3 million for the 600,000 people of Western Highlands.

And 14 of the 26 members of the provincial assembly present have pledged their support for Mr Olga in the remaining two years until the 2012 election by unanimously endorsing and passing the 2011 “people’s budget” at a special three-and-a -half hours sitting at Kimininga Hotel at 3.40pm on Wednesday.

He said the 2011 budget marked a new chapter of implementation, reconstruction and service delivery that promised to change Western Highlands province in the next two years. Mr Olga said the province’s 2011 budget was the third largest allocation from the national budget after Morobe and Southern Highlands provinces.

The 2011 appropriation of K125,254,800 is an increase of K37, 770,000, or 42 per cent, from the 2010 budget of K87,484,800. The K125.3 million is made up of K108,954,800 and K16,300,000 in national government grants and WHPG internal revenue respectively.

On the expenditure side personnel emoluments gets the biggest slice of K59,358,600 or 47.8 per cent of the budget, followed by the development budget of K48, 875,200 (33.3 per cent) and recurrent budget of K16, 021,000 (12.9 per cent). “I am confident that we can make more progress in 2011. We will steer our course in line with our Provincial Integrated Plan.” Mr Olga said.

Hagen elites get help from bank

Our bank, Bank South Pacific’s Mt Hagen branch has given 1000 T-shirts to Western Highlands elites this week to help clean up the city. Mt Hagen Bank South Pacific branch manager Alex Kuna made the presentation to the interim chairman of Western Highlands Forum, Samson Kombati.
Western Highlands Development Forum recieved 1,000 BSP "Go Green" uniform T-shirts last weekend in Mt. Hagen which were presented by Alex Kuna, BSP Bank Manager, to Interim Chairman and members (Pinjiki Wak and Pearson Kolo) and witnessed by BSP Bank staff and security guards. These uniforms will be used for the Easter 2011 Hagen City Cleanathon by elites of WHP.

Mr Kuna said BSP is not a bank that is only concerned about making profit but also help contribute to the development of this country by participating in community-based activities. Mr Kuna said it is the responsibility of all citizens and business houses in the country to ensure that “we live and work in a more friendly and health environment”.

This is not the first time, he said, BSP has assisted the province. The bank has helped Mt Hagen City Authority replace old rubbish drums at central business district and bus stops.

Gov. Olga to rebuild Mt Hagen city

By Neville Togarewa

Infrastructure redevelopment one of the six-pillar program for Western Highlands Provincial Government – K22 million set aside this year

The Olga-Rapa government has made Mt Hagen city infrastructure re-development one of its six “pillar programs” and allocated K22,019,200 for the project this year. The other five pillars are education (K11.5m), agriculture (K8.5m), infrastructure (K4.7m), rural health services (K3.9m) and law and order (K2.3m). Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare officially launched the K1.4 billion city re-development project last October.

“The Mt Hagen city re-development project has been incorporated in the Provincial Integrated Development Plan. We have engaged an overseas consultant to plan for the city’s development,” Governor Olga (left) said. “We have spent more than K4 million on this project and I am happy that it is now in the design stage.

“The National Government and our donor partners are very impressed with our efforts in making Mt Hagen a modern city established in the heart of PNG.” Mr Olga said the development of Mt Hagen was an integral part of the province’s rural transport infrastructure program and a focus of the 2011 budget.

“We are continuing our progress on improving road and transport infrastructure with a K4.8 million investment to maintain and upgrade 1500 kilometers of roads and 10 bridges,” he said. The governor said the program would be boosted this year with the purchase of a grader, back hoe and a dump truck.

“Our focus is to provide our people with rural infrastructure so that they can take control of their lives. Economic development depends on access by the rural population to markets, services and business opportunities,” Mr Olga said. “Solid infrastructure is the foundation for economic development and my government is laying that foundation to transform the lives of our people and the economy of our province.”

Villagers want Govt to patch up potholes

By Mal Taime

Leaders of Walpi clan in South Wahgi district of Jiwaka Province have slammed the National Government for continuous neglecting to patch up potholes along sections of the Highlands Highway.

The leaders Peter Wandil, Singa Yesim, Koip Noah, John Tumbo, Councilor Peter Mani and Jack Kaa said the government neglected to patch up potholes and this resulted in the death of some people, which was a big concern to them. The leaders said there were big potholes about a meter wide and six centimeters deep at Kiam village.

That deteriorated road portion had been neglected for years which had caused fatal accidents when the drivers tried to avoid them. The leaders called on the National Government to do something about the potholes after a PMV bus killed an old woman instantly after it tried to avoid a pothole.

WHP first to implement health plan

By Pius Mon

Western Highlands Province will be the first to implement the Provincial Health Authority Act, a policy to have all district health facilities have specialist doctors visiting and attending to medical care.

This was revealed by Provincial Administrator Malcolm Culligan (left) this week during a formal luncheon hosted by the Governor Tom Olga in appreciation of performance by public servants in the past years.

Mr Culligan said since the province has signed the single health authority act early last year, work has been progressing very well and the province was now prepared to implement this policy.

He further added that the Provincial Health Authority board will be officially sworn in beginning next month, paving way for work to began. The administrator said most times specialist doctors were only based at the provincial headquarter, especially at Mt Hagen General Hospital but this will now be a thing of past starting this year and onwards.

He added that doctors will make time available to visit all health facilities in the districts and attend to the sick. Mr Culligan told the people that health services would now be decentralized to the door steps of the rural population in the province. The Western Highlands Provincial Government has assisted in this drive and completed a duplex residential for specialist doctors and funding has been made available in this year’s budget to continue support the project.

Mr Culligan also took the opportunity to thanked Governor Olga who took the initiative to put his hand up to take on board the concept for the province which was now being realized. He said this will really boost the operations of health programs in the province while at the same time help contribute to reduce the number of deaths in the districts and the province.

PNG Local Time

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