Focus on Rural Airstrips

By Theckla Gunga – EM TV, Port Moresby

The responsibility of reopening rundown rural airstrips in remote Papua New Guinea must be taken up by local members of parliament.

Since the government’s move to bring services into each electorate, minister responsible for

Civil Aviation Minister, Davis Stevens, says MP’s must come forward if they want to rebuild rural airstrips in their electorates.

It has been years, if not decades, since most of the rural airstrips in Papua New Guinea were last used. Most of them have completely shut down, while others are operational, but deteriorating fast.

In 2013, Civil Aviation Minister, Davis Stevens openly told Radio ABC that the PNG government was committed to rebuilding rural airstrips. 

For provinces like West Sepik and Morobe, where most villagers are cut off from the main townships, rural air service is the only point of entry for villagers.

In 2012, when the concept of rural air services was discussed, it was found that most rural airstrips in PNG were built without proper safety checks.

This prompted the Civil Aviation Industry, through the Rural Airstrips Agency Authority, to consider safety when rebuilding, or reopening airstrips.        

But there are many challengers for rebuilding rural airstrips, and Stevens said the funds must come from governing MPs. Factors like building materials, fuel and transportation costs must be met, before an airstrip can be opened.

And the government will be partnering with local members through a public-private partnership to ensure rural airstrip services are delivered.

Government members, including members of Gulf and Western provinces, have come forward to rebuild or reopen the airstrips in their electorates, and in doing so, ensuring that basic services reach their people.

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