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Gulf Province: six hours away & ignored

Kerema
Kerema

REBECCA KUKU
|My Land, My Country

KEREMA - Gulf Province is only six hours away from Port Moresby and is one of the most least developed provinces in the country.

Its main town, Kerema, is in a sad state. The market has closed forcing locals to sell fresh fish and garden food in an open sports field.

The BSP Bank closed after a robbery, forcing locals to withdraw cash from Chinese shops in town.

The town is littered with outsiders who have come to town to buy betel nut. There should be laws governing the influx of betel nut buyers to protect the locals.

And I think it’s time the Town Authority sat down and looked at rehabilitating existing infrastructure.

The Provincial Government should also help find and establish markets for fish with buyers outside the province, because Gulf has a lot to offer in the fisheries sector.

Despite having projects like logging and cocoa for years, Gulf Province has little to show in terms of development.

People still walk for miles from their villages to access basic services. There is no sea ambulance, many times pregnant mothers give birth at home and some die. For them it is an everyday experience.

In terms of law and order, Gulf does not have a jail. Detainees are transported to Port Moresby’s Bomana Jail, an expensive exercise.

People take advantage of this, knowing that only the serious cases will be prosecuted.

There are a lot of educated Gulf men and women in PNG, and we are tolerant.

We see, we complain but we do nothing. Most choose to turn a blind eye to the state of their province and live in luxury in Port Moresby.

I say this with a lot of shame because I am honest enough to admit that I have never been home, never written about my province.

And today I have come. And I want to write.

It’s time to tell Gulf Stories.

Rebecca Kuku is from Uaripi Village in Gulf. She is a content contributor to Guardian Australia and the Post Courier

Comments

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Arthur Williams

Yet when the Gulf landowners say they want the next LNG built in the province they are ignored by Waigani government elites who want Moresby to continue to be a disastrous magnet for squatters following development in the capital.

I too did time in Baimuru working for STC. My divisional manager also considered it a punishment to work there, Chris.

So much so that he even told me that if I wanted to plunder the almost million turnover we had in our monopolistic wholesale, retail fuel and shipping business; it was OK, "But don't be too greedy Arthur!" I had never been given that advice in my then 30 years of commercial employment.

I believe a stand alone LNG project for the Gulf (and incidentally Daru) is the only answer to the lack of development. whether it be a jettyless floating terminal (JFT) or a floating LNG (FLNG) that is an LNG plant constructed on a ship. These are operating successfully worldwide now.

Chris Overland

I spent two years (1969-71) in the then Gulf District, patrolling around Kerema, Kaintiba, Kikori and Baimuru.

The Gulf was then populated very sparsely with only basic services available to the people.

The district was regarded by many kiaps as a hardship or even punishment posting because the climatic conditions were tough and patrolling by boat or canoe in one of the world's largest estuarine gulfs is not everyone's cup of tea.

It was always a district that struggled to get much recognition or support from Port Moresby.

It was not resource rich, nor were its peoples judged to be especially entrepreneurial and energetic. However, many of them were highly educated by the standards of the time and found their way into government and business.

It seems that the Gulf still languishes near the bottom of the provincial league table.

While I doubt that it can ever be an economic powerhouse, my impression gathered long ago was that there were enough opportunities, especially in primary production, to significantly enhance its people's prospects for earning a bit of money and to pay for essential public services.

Quite why this has not happened I do not know.

Anyway, I remember my time in the Gulf fondly and wish its peoples well for the future. Perhaps people like Rebecca Kuku can stimulate useful action to improve the situation.

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