By ELIAS NANAU
The government has made available K6 million to maintain rural airstrips serviced by third level airlines.
The funds will be coordinated by an already established Rural Airstrips Authority.
National Planning and Implementation Minister Charles Abel said last Thursday in a “Tanim Graun” talk session in Port Moresby that this will be rolled out through partnerships with existing and reputable third level airlines.
The talk session is funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Abel acknowledged the Missionary Aviation Fellowship or MAF as one of those notable small operators who could meaningfully partner with the government, providing aviation services to most remote places in the country.
“In fact the Transport Department wanted to create another government agency, they were only going to maintain two airstrips and through our intervention, particularly with the Civil Aviation Minister we approached MAF,” he said.
“MAF said no we have already been operating and with that money we can maintain 50 airstrips.”
Abel said MAF would set up arrangements with people on the ground with lawnmowers to cut the grass and set up wind socks and cones.
He said they would also use some money maintain their aircraft.
“The money is to support them do work that the government is struggling to do,” he said.
Abel said the idea to set up another government agency was a fine example of the government getting money, creating more bureaucracy, having more meetings and wasting time providing services to people.
“You’ve got already good partners to actually do the job,” he said.
“The MAF is already doing a fantastic job.”