​Locals challenged to maintain project

National Planning Minister Richard Maru has challenged recipients of a water project in Manus to sustain it going forward.

Speaking during the closing of the saltwater desalination pilot project on Tuesday at Bipi Island, Minister Maru said the people of Manus were very privileged to benefit from such projects.

This project converts beach well water into fresh drinking water, using the technology of reverse osmosis and solar power.

He said many other atoll provinces, who also experience water shortage during the dry seasons, would want to have this but Manus is privileged.

"It’s a big investment. And delivering it here is more expensive than other places," Minister Maru said.

Logistics alone cost more in delivering this project, due to the remoteness of the islands.

It cost K15 million for the project. National Planning met K3 million of the cost.

However, the Minister said the problem with such projects after it is handed over to the people is that most do not get managed well by locals.

"The biggest challenge is to sustain it going forward and Manus must show that it's a sustainable project. Maintain the system," the Minister said.

Japanese Ambassador H.E. Satoshi Nakajima, in congratulating the people of Manus for successfully implementing the project, said he was happy in establishing a sustainable water system by using Japanese technicians from Sojits, who installed and implemented the project.

"The project may look small but is an important step forward for PNG as it can be applied in converting both salt water and muddy water into fresh drinking water,” he said.

As more and more coastal communities around the country get affected by climate change, it is anticipated that the same technology will be used and rolled out in other parts of the country once funding is secured.

(National Planning Minister, Richard Maru, Japanese Ambassador H.E. Satoshi Nakajima and Manus Open MP and Speaker Job Pomat officiating at the closing of the desalination project)

Sally Pokiton