The PNGDF FOB was opened last Friday by Defence Minister, Win Daki, during PM Marape’s visit to Tari.
Also present were State Enterprises Minister William Duma, Public Service Minister Joe Sungi, Hela Governor Philip Undialu, PNGDF Commander Major-General Mark Goina and Defence Secretary John Akipe.
The establishment of the PNGDF FOB in Tari follows the signing of an agreement between the Hela Provincial Government and PNGDF in June 2020.
“I welcome the establishment of the PNG Defence Force Forward Operating Base in Tari,” said Maj-Gen Goina. “This will serve not only Hela but also neighboring provinces such as Southern Highlands, Enga, Western Highlands, West Sepik, Western and Gulf.”
Maj-Gen Goina said the PNGDF FOB in Tari was “a very good initiative” of the Marape-led Government because of the law-and-order situation in Hela and the PNG LNG Project.
He said the PNGDF moved into the Tari FOB at the beginning of April this year in preparation for the 2022 General Election.
“This base will remain as a permanent FOB for the PNGDF.
“I want to tell the people of Hela that we will remain here until the Third Battalion Barracks is built here, and then we will shift across,” said the Chief of Defence.
Goina added that the decision would bring in increased economic activities, stability, growth and prosperity to Hela.
“We (PNGDF) will help establish a hospital, we will help establish a primary school, we will establish other services within the barracks which will be extended out to the local communities,” Goina said.
The FOB would be constructed in four phases, with the first phase costing K5 million.
PNGDF Engineering Battalion Director, Lieutenant-Colonel John Giregire said the FOB could accommodate 120 soldiers in preparation for the elections, with 96 already based there.
“This is the best-ever forward base ever seen in the PNG Defence Force.
“It is a four-star hotel with no complaints from soldiers.
“Hela is a very-important province because of the resources we have here, therefore, PNGDF is here to stay.
“It will be the catalyst for economic and social development in this province and this country,” Maj-Gen Goina said.