by Quinton Alomp – EM TV, Port Moresby
Thirty-nine years on, since independence, and the people of Jimi in Jiwaka province are still waiting for government services to reach them; a situation faced by many others in rural Papua New Guinea.
Their cries for better roads and government services have fallen on deaf ears, but despite their challenges, they found the strength to initiate change for the better in their communities and build a bush track that would enable them access to services needed in Kerowagi, Chimbu province.
They started building the bush track in March 2013, starting from Ambullua in Jimi to Bogo in Kerowagi district, Chimbu province.
And the track is finally completed and is used by more than 10, 000 people in the area, and feeds over ten council wards.
The community self-help project was piloted with the help of Aaron Gunbi, a third year PNG Studies and International Relations student from the Divine Word University. The community also received support from the Mount Hagen Catholic Arch Diocese, who assisted with food supplies during the construction of the track.
Aaron said with no government help, the people are desperate for better services and they had to depend on what they have to initiate the project.
Men and women took part in clearing the bush, sleeping under makeshift shelters with pandanus roofs, working tirelessly to complete their mission.
“It took us six hours to walk from Ambullua to Bogo on that track. People carry coffee, peanut and garden produce to sell at Kerowagi to earn money.” Aaron Gunbi said.
Mr Gunbi said maternal and infant mortality is costing the lives of many women and their babies and by them opening the bush track, people could now have access basic services in Kerowagi, which is closest to them.
He is calling on political leaders from the Jiwaka and Chimbu provinces to recognise their effort and build a proper road.
“Building proper roads to Jimi will decrease the rate of dying women and their babies. Coffee and other commercial crops can be transported to town.
“I am appealing to our parliamentarians to help us build a better road. This will also address the rural to urban migration” said Mr Gunbi.
Aaron thanked the Mount Hagen Catholic Arch Diocese for assisting the people with food supply during the construction phase.