PORT MORESBY – “Dear Prime Minister,” wrote Martyn Namorong in an open letter on Monday. “Please reinstate Brian Alois or, even better, appoint him as the secretary for works so we taxpayers don't get ripped off.”
Now in case you don’t recall this matter, Alois was suspended by the Works Department last year after he blew the whistle on how the Papua New Guinea government was being cheated on inflated road contracts.
At the time, Alois was the Momase regional works manager and also president of the PNG Institute of Engineers.
Speaking as Institute president at a national planning summit, he had highlighted how the government was paying well in excess of what it should for road construction and maintenance projects.
In doing so, he mentioned a 300-metre stretch of road in the National Capital District which had cost K80 million to construct.
In the audience was works secretary David Wereh and a number of government ministers and departmental heads.
Within hours Brian Alois had been suspended from his job. More than a year later he remains sidelined.
“He should be a national hero,” Lae journalist Sylvester Gawi wrote of this case. “Brian Alois is a Papua New Guinean of integrity, a person of whom the country should be proud.”
And PNG's first female engineer, Finkewe Zurenuoc, said, “He spoke on our behalf. He knows what he is talking about. Let the truth be told. The truth does hurt.”
Now Namorong, who had attended the conference in Lae where Alois spoke, has taken up his cause directly with James Marape.
“Brian presented on behalf the Institute of Engineers of PNG and not as an individual,” Namorong wrote.
“His presentation was based on a paper commissioned by the Institute [and] he was presenting at the invitation of then planning minister Richard Maru.
“Brian's crime was for being a messenger of the truth about PNG's road contracts as uncovered by PNG's engineering peak body.”
Paul Barker, director of the PNG Institute of National Affairs, commenting on Namorong’s letter this week, commended Alois as a “capable and honest talent that PNG cannot afford to miss out on.
“His message on overpriced contracts must be heeded and addressed,” Barker said.
Martyn Namorong has done the people of PNG a service in reminding them of this great injustice.
As Namorong says, prime minister Marape should ensure that Brian Alois is reinstated.
And, more than this, perhaps Marape needs a restorative justice commission to investigate this and similar cases and ensure that fine people like Brian Alois are compensated and restored to appropriate positions as PNG seeks to leave behind its history of official corruption.