SYLVESTER GAWI | Graun Blong Mi (My Land) | Edited
LAE – Two days ago – prompted by news that former deputy prime minister Belden Namah faced dismissal from parliament by the Leadership tribunal - I wrote a post on Facebook saying, "When you stand for the truth, you will stand alone".
Since then, there has been more strange news. The president of the PNG Institute of Engineers, Brian Alois, who is Momase regional works manager, was suspended by the Works Department.
This motivated PNG National Research Institute Director Paul Barker to observe, “What a week for PNG professionals!”
Brian Alois is a Papua New Guinean of integrity, a person of whom the country should be proud.
Speaking as Institute president, he was addressing the recent National Planning Consultative Summit when he highlighted how the PNG government is paying well in excess of what it should for road construction and maintenance projects.
This is consistent with other independent reports that highlight that PNG invariably pays on the basis of precedent from previous inflated contract prices (and deficient tendering processes) rather than real cost plus a reasonable mark-up.
Mr Alois mentioned the recent 300 metre road in the National Capital District which cost K80 million (an extraordinary cost blow-out).
So, for helping PNG raise its standards, save its population tens of millions, better ensuring a sustainable infrastructure and exposing wrongdoing and malpractice for which he should be a national hero, it seems the Works Department instead chose to suspend Mr Alois. This sends a pretty strange message.
“Brian Alois has done more audits on road infrastructures in PNG than anyone else in Works,” said PNG's first female engineer Finkewe Zurenuoc. “He knows what he is talking about. Let the truth be told. The truth does hurt.”
“The Institute of Engineers is supporting our president, Brian Alois. He spoke on our behalf.”
So whose interest is the Department of Works serving by suspending Brian Alois?
Mr Alois spoke the truth during his presentation in front of Works Secretary David Wereh and other government ministers and departmental heads. His presentation was straightforward and was clear enough for anyone to understand.
I remember he also did a presentation in 2014 during an engineers’ conference in Lae. He did a cost analysis of the Lae roads. His explanation was simple and was directed as a challenge to engineers.