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Empty election promises continue to deny people basic services

Sailing canoeJORDAN DEAN

OUT of curiosity, I typed the name of my birthplace, ‘Iyaupolo village, Papua New Guinea’, into Google and this response appeared: “Your search - Iyaupolo village, Papua New Guinea - did not match any documents”.

This didn't surprise me because this tiny village is devoid of electricity and water supplies as well as basic health and education services. Nor are there houses built of corrugated iron and timber.

Time has stood still for my insignificant village, unknown to the world because it hasn't produced any lawyer, doctor, politician or figure of influence.

Nearly 42 years after independence, my people in a rural part of Fergusson Island in Milne Bay Province are still living with old realities.

The nearest health centre and primary school at Mapamoiwa station are two hours walk, or paddle, away.

Education is the key to developing any community, but my people hardly make it past Grade 8 because of the travel involved.

I was fortunate to have a decent education because my parents lived and worked in Alotau, the capital of Milne Bay.

While we huff and puff about water rationing in Port Moresby, my people in rural Iyaupolo walk a fair distance daily for a few buckets of water for daily use. Despite many election promises about water supply and rural electrification, my people still use the river to bathe and do their daily washing.

I live in a world where I almost have a stroke if the Samsung Galaxy S10 or Huawei P10 cellphones runs out of battery. But we know that 80% of Papua New Guineans live in rural areas and spend dark nights with little other than firewood and kerosene lanterns.

This is the 21st century but our people still live with such harsh realities.

So many empty election promises; so much neglect.

It is time to rise up and develop our own villages.


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Lindsay F Bond

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Lindsay F Bond

What idyll? External 'civilisation' intruded, interrupting notions "natural and untouched".

That past, unfortunate impost now is an expectancy unmatched by likelihood of attainment.

And worse. Central government purports service delivery persons then abases those persons.

Said one of the education standards officers (who are employed by the National Department of Education, and are stationed at district administrations)...a crucial role in monitoring spending and dispute resolution: "I sit here all day...There is no money for travelling, nor money for photocopying.

Another broke down and cried when describing the difficulties they faced for remote schools.


In 2005, a health worker "broke down and cried when describing the difficulties" at a facility just eight kilometres from the road Kokoda to Oro Bay.

Some thirty years into 'independence', effect of denial of basic services was to close yet another aid post facility. But the policy which brought that effect may have existed from the date of Independence. Can confirmation be evinced?

Macabre perhaps, photo collection of aid post buildings now defunct in Oro, is like arrangement of memorials, trophies, human skulls, spectres of retrospective. Curiosity, discovery, education's prospective beckons.

Thank you Jordan for emphasis on denial. Basic to bikman society ain't only mouthing. Is it not also motivating, making and maintaining?

Chips Mackellar

That's right Jordan, don't wait for the government, do it yourself. Just think how your ancestors lived. They did not wait for some government to produce a sextant or a GPS to help them navigate around the D'Entrecasteaux Islands. They worked it out for themselves, by studying the tides, the currents, the winds, the colour of the sea, the stars at night and the sun by day, the flight patterns of land based sea birds and so on. They read the seabed like a schoolkid reads an atlas, and when at sea, they knew exactly where they were. They did not need some government agronimist to tell them where to plant yams, they worked it out all by themselves. In fact, for thousands of years they worked everything out without the aid of any government. You are the inheritor of a unique island society, and we all should envy you.

Jordan Dean

I'd love my little village to remain as natural and untouched as much as possible but would like to have a few cold beers and watch footy or Discovery channel or access the internet when I go home for Christmas vacation. My parents built a permanent 3 bedroom house some years ago (the only house made from timber and iron in the village). I bought a generator and solar panels for lighting, TV and music. Still saving up to buy poly pipes for a self help water supply system. I am planning on installing a satellite TV antenna. Can't wait on the government.

Bernard Corden

Dear Daniel, This is very reminiscent of John and Linda Savage and their life on the reservation in Huxley's 'Brave New World'.

Hugh Tavonavona

Iyaupolo is known to archaeologists (world) who work in the south coast of PNG - it has obsidian source(s) within its vicinity and some of it was traded about 2000 years ago as far west as the Gulf of Papua and north to Oro and probably beyond. But anyway, that is not development (the local people need).

Daniel Kumbon

Fr Roche, when I allow my imaginations to run wild, all sorts of ideas form in my mind.

Sometimes I find myself accomplishing impossible feats.

These are the times when I find myself laughing and crying at the same time.

Philip Fitzpatrick

I think someone important in the Australian administration prior to independence, and only half in jest, suggested that the whole of PNG should be declared a special reserve and fenced off Daniel.

I think this was motivated by the knowledge of what the introduction of western ways would do to the country.

Perhaps something highlanders wouldn't want to hear but maybe attractive to coastal people.

Garry Roche

Having flown in and out of Port Moresby recently and seen all the new highways and buildings etc., one cannot help but wonder if rural areas are suffering because all the money is spent in POM. Unfair neglect of rural areas can lead to calls for independence. Daniel, I suspect you 'tok bokis' with some of your suggestions! Enga-land here we come!

`Daniel Kumbon

There are many such isolated places in PNG. The people still live the way their ancestors did cut off from the rest of PNG and the world.

If it is the intention of the government to allow the people to live that way, then I suggest,the areas are declared protected areas, fence the areas in and let the people continue to live in the wild.

And like zoo animals tours can be organised from high rise hotels in Port Moresby so tourists can observe them from the air.

That would see an enormous boost in tourism activity for the nation's capital, wouldn't it?

Michael Dom

Jordan, development should be about enabling people to create their own options to determine how they live and providing for opportunities which allow them to achieve those dreams.

In this context then facilities such as good roads and airstrips become the means to an end and not the end in itself, which is how we in PNG currently view them.

Likewise, services such as health and education should be recognised as fundamental needs which underpin development: it is the educated, enabled and, hopefully, enlightened people who will create the real development.

That is what Phil and Chips have in Australia.

As poets you and I work on the enlightenment aspect.

Chips Mackellar

Sorry Jordan, but I agree with Phil. I was ADC Esa'ala for several years, across the Dobu Strait with a perfect view of Fergusson Island. It was an ideal posting - moonlight and palm trees, friendly people, beautiful girls, and they spoke the melodious lilting Dobu language. It was Papua at its very best, untouched by the evils of the modern world, and may they always remain that way.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Notwithstanding the lack of amenities in Lyaupolo I suspect the people there might be better off being isolated.

My wife and I recently moved to a fairly remote (by Australian standards) part of South Australia precisely because we were tired of the hectic way of life where we had previously lived.

I'm in the process of ditching my reliance on many of the trappings deemed essential by most people in the west.

I'll admit to an inclination towards hippiedom in my earlier life but its remarkable how many like-minded people live here.

My wife and I are currently on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland visiting relatives and can't wait to get home.

I think people should be careful about what they wish for and maybe rethink whether it would be worth it.

Bomai Witne

The name Mapamoiwa reminds me of the crystal beach, juicy kulau, lovely fishermen and the million dollar view sunset. A truly beautiful place in PNG.

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