​Rai Coast funds RRA to restore rural airstrips

Meeting the needs and providing vital services for rural communities is among many priorities set by the Rai Coast District Development Authority (RDDA) for its people.

One of them is accessing better transportation services and on this take, the RDDA on Tuesday 28th November presented a cheque of K380,000 to the Rural Airstrip Agency (RRA) to restore and maintain the rural airstrips in the district, to meet the required safety standard for the benefit of its rural people.

Member for Rai Coast and Minister for Labour & Employment Kessy Sawang presented the cheque on behalf of the people of Rai Coast and the RDDA.

This funding assistance will support RAA to conduct survey and scoping of works, restore and maintain the deteriorating unused and abandoned rural airstrips.

A total of 11 airstrips identified by major works starting in 2024 are:

  1. Teptep 
  2. Bambu 
  3. Gwarawan/Nankina 
  4. Mibu/Tibu 
  5. Wangeto 
  6. Bairong 
  7. Saidor 
  8. Gumbarami 
  9. Guhu 
  10. Matoko
  11. Long Island 

Only two (Teptep and Saidor airstrips) out of the 11 airstrips are in existence.

Minister Sawang said Saidor is a priority, because the government station is located there and want to start having some flights into the station.

“Saidor airstrip needs to be upgraded and maintained and maybe in the near future we could have it sealed. The airstrip is 1.9 km long built during World War 2,” she said.

“I am trying to have a program in our DDA for council wards that host the airstrips, the DDA will give them direct funding from the district’s District Services Improvement Program (DSIP) funds to maintain the airstrips.”

The RDDA has plans to turn Teptep into a “Foodbowl”. They also plan to seal the runway at Teptep in the near future.

Sawang said this will increase agriculture activities in the area because of it’s close proximity to Nadzab International Airport.

“I am happy my district is your (RAA) partner in development. In the next five years, we want to keep track of how much we have spent from bringing the airstrips up from neglect and unusable airstrips to usable airstrips. Especially, the economic activities it can enable so that our investment is not in vain but we are actually investing in economic activities that will grow,” Minister Sawang said. 

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