Wong asks for K3m for Gazelle’s rural roads

In parliament on Tuesday, Member for Gazelle Jelta Wong said the K3 million earmarked for the rehabilitation of his district’s roads has not reached the District Development Authority yet.

“Three million kina was budgeted for rural roads in Gazelle has not been received. I asked the district’s finance manager and he said it hasn’t come yet. Can the Minister please investigate?” Wong asked Minister for Transport & Infrastructure, William Samb.

Minister Samb said in the 2019 budget, K100 million was allocated for district roads.

“K40 million has been spent. Of this, a warrant of K19 million was transferred to Transport Department but was withdrawn, and K40 million was transferred to Works Department to be spent.”

Minister Samb said: “Our intent is to ensure K100 million is spent on districts, starting from the Opposition (MPs) to government (MPs), where at least one million is given to each district to help with rural roads.”

He also suggested that each MP provide K1 million of DSIP funding to purchase two excavators.

“As we know, we are in dire need of financing, at least each MP put K1 million on two equipment from DSIP, and get four machines with the other K1 million. Those who already have (machines) can use the K1 million to maintain their fleet and continue the work,” said Minister Samb.

He also begged that the Works Department help with maintaining the rural roads with the funding and avoid asking for hire cars or allowance, which puts a strain on the limited funding.

Minister Samb also questioned why Gazelle District was being given K3 million, and Wong clarified that government had decided on that amount because the district was responding to the devastating floods that destroyed much of their road networks to Rabaul and Kokopo as well.

Minister Samb said he will look at the budget allocation again and return to parliament with a response.

Meanwhile, Member for Sohe Henry Amuli raised a supplementary on a vital road link in his district that has been closed for several years, which the District has been working hard to fix.

Amuli said: “I am working on this vital road link that is also accessed by people from Goilala District to do shopping in Sohe. It’s 20 kilometres long, but needs a lot of work.

“Sohe Treasury have records of a cheque of K1 million that was deposited into the district account on 20th June, but the next day that funding was withdrawn. Please can we have that money back? We have machines, but need funding to operate them.”

While Minister Samb said he would follow the paperwork trail of the K40 million to the Works Department, who were tasked to spend the funding, Works and Implementation Minister Michael Nali raised a Point of Order.

Minister Nali said there is an understanding between Works, Transport and National Planning on how to spend that K100 million PTD (Plant and Transport Division) funding, but it didn’t matter who spends the money. The problem is when cheques are written out.

“The warrant of K40 million was released, and all have gone to the Finance Department to clear. Some cheques were deposited after the clearance, but unfortunately some of them bounced because of cash flow issues. If your cheque bounced, just return the cheque. It is simple as that,” Minister Nali explained.

(Member for Gazelle, Jelta Wong)

Salome Vincent