Rural ENB village gets new vehicle

The sleepy rural Merai village along South Coast Baining, East New Britain Province, came alive on Tuesday upon receipt of a much-needed vehicle.

This will greatly help in softening current transport woes of the people and rural farmers in this area.

The long base, open back truck was officially handed over to the chairman of the South Coast Transport Services, Fidelis Poiken, by Pomio MP Elias Kapavore, amidst joyous cheering from the locals who turned up to witness the occasion.

Kapavore told the people that he was appreciative of the wonderful welcome given and the singing from the Merai Elementary School and Nongia Primary School, including the choirs sang in the local Mali-Baining dialect.

Merai village is in the Merai ward under Sinivit LLG, inside the Pomio District, and is a Mali-Baining predominant village along the South Coast.

The people here live along what is described as an economical growth corridor, one of seven such economic corridors in the country due to the expansion of economic development in the area from Tol/Masarau inside the Wide Bay area.

Since the early 2000’s, this road has drastically deteriorated, making it very hard for locals from Lat, Gar, Merai and Illi wards to travel into town with their cocoa and copra bags to sell.

“We’ve been hiring speed boats to bring in our bags of dried cocoa and copra to sell in Kokopo, but it’s very expensive,” said Martin Panas, a local from the Illi village, who walked for almost two hours to get into Merai village just for the occasion.

Panas is an elementary teacher and explains that since the Merai River diverted its course, and destroyed a ‘hastily’ built bridge, no cars have driven into Nongia and Illi village.

“It’s actually cheaper hiring a truck to bring out our cargoes,” states Alphonse Nokprano in Tok Pisin, as he attempts to support Panas and shed some light to the significance of this support from the Pomio MP.

Chairman Poiken stressed that the vehicle is there to support the people.

“It’s not only for the people of Merai, but for the people of Marunga, Karong, Illi, Nongia, Gar and Lat. Let us work to support ourselves, and look after this vehicle because it will look after us.”

The truck costs close to K200,000, which includes accessories. It was shipped over to Kokopo on Monday from Lae and before being officially handed over, had to be properly registered at Boroko Motors branch in Kokopo.

The vehicle is part of Pomio District’s Support Infrastructure Project (DSIP) funding of K10 million, to provide logistics support to all the five local level governments of the district.

Joshua Arlo