Historic Port Relocation: Port of Motukea

by Delly Waigeno – EM TV News, Port Moresby

This week, Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, officially opened the Port of Motukea for business.

The event marked a significant milestone in the development of Port Moresby city and the nation in general.

Chairman of the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC), Paul Nerau, greeted the guests saying “Welcome to the new gateway to Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea is open for business.”

Port Moresby has come a long way since the first arrival of European explorers.

The site was already an important trade centre when the Englishman Captain John Moresby landed there in 1873, claiming the land for Britain and naming it after his father, Sir Fairfax Moresby.

After 142 years, Port Moresby has grown and become a thriving Port city, however with success also comes challenges with the population growing forcing the government to deal with the demand for expansion.

As such, 20 years ago the government commissioned a study for the relocation of the Port (ironically done so by the People’s National Congress Party led government of the Late Sir William Skate).

“Lo and behold the then President of the PNC Party, Mr Peter O’Neill… 2012 comes in as Prime Minister appoints me as the Minister…so through the wisdom of our Prime Minister [and] the Cabinet, we made a decision, not to build a Port that will take us another 5 or 6 years but to acquire this port,” said Ben Micah, Minister for Public Enterprise & State Investmen’s.

According to Prime Minister O’Neill, the decision to re-locate the port was in the process for a long time coming at a cost to the government.

“What would have cost us probably K100m at that time, it is now costing us well over K700m… All this government has been trying to do, over the past few years, is to correct the mistakes of the past. Trying to build infrastructure that has been neglected for many, many years,” the Prime Minister explained.

The Port Sale Agreement was signed in 2014 between PNG Ports Corporation and Curtain Bros, who have owned and operated the Motukea Port since 2010.

The State agreed to pay Curtain Bros K725 million for the acquisition of Motukea.

On 1 July 2015, IPBC signed a loan agreement valued at K800m with BSP to facilitate the port relocation and relocation project. This allowed the finalisation of the sale of the Port of Motukea and the transfer of ownership from Curtain Bros to PNG Ports, as well as the redevelopment of the existing port site in Port Moresby.

Nathaniel Poya, Chairman of PNG Ports Corporation said, “My board and management is committed to working in an open, transparent, manner [to] develop this Port into a modern world-class facility.”

Relocating the port and its operations will relieve congestion in the Central Business District of Port Moresby. The aim is to have the Port relocation completed by 2018 to coincide with the 2018 APEC meeting.

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