Never in a thousand year’s would our ancestors have thought a road would be built through here. This road is for our future generation, it will remain decades beyond our time, our legacy will leave on through this road,” said New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan when speaking during the opening of the 38.6km Rativis to Porpop road upgrade in the Matalai LLG of the Namatanai district.
The launching ceremony was staged with true New Ireland flare and pomp at Kudukudu village on Wednesday 12th August. It was the biggest gathering of people at the small scenic village which rarely hosts celebrations of such magnitude. The day itself was perfect with cool breeze, clear blue skies reflecting on the calm turquoise ocean just metres away from the gathering.
Present to witness the launching alongside the New Ireland Provincial Government were representatives from the National Department of Works led by Manager Solomon Pela, Contractor PNGSJC, 60 delegates from the Central LLG taking part in the NIPG Community Awareness program, special guest representing Lihir Landowners Association Clement Moson and the local community.
School students opened the official proceedings with their own joyous rendition of the New Ireland Provincial song.
Giving a background on the road, Works Manager Solomon Pela said the project took 5 years to complete, at a cost of K54.2 million. “The work was done in stages, every 5-6 km cost K5 million. Matalai LLG you are so fortunate, your Government has invested K54.2 million on you. That is an unprecedented investment. It’s a mile stone achievement. You cannot take things for granted. The fact is most of your big impact projects in the province are not funded by the National Government but through your Province’s own internal revenue, through your Royalties from Lihir Gold mine,” said Pela.
Local leader and Outstanding New Irelander recipient Robin Pitili recalled a time when the terrain was tough and impassable, driving over rivers without bridges. He thanked the New Ireland Government for the rapid development in the Matalai LLG. He said it was during Sir J’s time that all the bridges in the area were built.“ Matalai yupla ready nau long baim bus, clostu taim nau bai yumi can ronim bus long here. Road nau i bringing kainkain development na sevis long yumi. Punam bris tasol bai need long fixim na em bai pinis.”
Sir J acknowledged the Namatanai Open MPs recent announcement that he would be fixing the collapsed Punam bridge, however “ By December during the drawing up of the budget if there is nothing forth coming, then I will intervene , we will move, we will reprioritize because all our good roads will reach all the way to Punam river. We must conquer the difficult challenges as we continue to do so, “said Sir J.
The days festivities continued with more singsings, jubilant cultural performances and feasting with up to 15 mumu pigs combined with local garden produce, satisfying everyone that turned up to witness the opening.
Over 60 percent of the New Ireland Infrastructure Budget has been invested on Namatanai alone on roads and bridges since Sir J took office. Every road, bridge, school and Namatanai Secondary was built during Sir J’s time. From Poronbus to Lipek, Muliama and Metlik, and West coast to Palabong and onwards, to the Islands of Tanga, Malendok and Boeng.
In October the people of Matalai and Namatanai will also witness the Grand Opening of the State of the Art Tinkoris Hospital, giving world class health services to people from Konoagil, Tanir and parts of Namatanai that have been travelling long distances to access quality health services in the province. “ The further you are, the more we care, we will continue to live up to our promises as enshrined in the Malagan Declaration and New Ireland Declaration Forward,” said Sir Julius.