Conflict of interest stalls project

A conflict of interest situation has stalled the development of the Ramazon hydropower project in Tinputz, in the North Bougainville Region of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Minister for Public Investment and State Enterprise, William Duma, revealed this in Parliament today.

Duma was responding to Bougainville Regional MP, Joe Lera, who queried why the Ramazon project was stalled. He asked why the hydropower facility was not built since its initiation between 2012 and 2013.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded project is expected to provide reliable power supply to 60-70,000 people of North Bougainville, especially those in Buka Town and surrounding villages.

“Some work has already been done like the erection of power lines funded by the New Zealand and Japanese governments,” said Lera.

“While the hydropower plant was tendered but to date no contract has been awarded.

“Other than this very little has been done on the actual construction of the hydropower plant itself and under the ADB funding.

“Can the Minister give some explanation as to the reasons for the delay, what’s the status of the project tender and awarding?”

Minister Duma said the ADB had discovered there was a conflict of interest within the tender committee of the project.

“As we all know they have a very tedious and transparent process, it was discovered that one of the decision makers that sat in the committee that made the decision toward the contracts, had a conflict of interest in one of the companies bidding for that hydropower project plant,” said Duma.

“Because of that reason it was decided to put that aspect of the project or the hydro project itself on hold until that issue was dealt with.

“I do not know what has become of it, but I can assure the regional Member for Bougainville the reasons for its delay and report to him later on.”

Duma however, said the ADB remains committed to this project and until the issue of conflict has been sorted, they can expect the project completed this year.

Cedric Patjole