By Vanessa Knight – EM TV News, Port Moresby
The evident increase of air traffic experienced at the Momote Airport in Manus Province has shone a light on the dire need for improved airport facilities and infrastructure to cater for the masses.
The airport has seen an escalation in upgraded flights and passengers since the reopening of the Australian-run Regional Processing Centre in Lombrum in late 2012.
The airport built during the WWII by the Americans, was used as a major military base by the allied force to launch its campaign towards the Philippines, and later Japan, to end the last war.
The peace time invasion by the Australian foreign policy made Manus an important location in processing and resettling genuine refugees in the region.
However, since the reopening of the Asylum Centre on the island three years ago, this typically sleepy province has experienced an economic and business boom, generating an increase from 4 weekly flights to 13, and approximately 2,000 passengers flying in and out of the province per month.
Former Manus Regional Member and senior citizen, Arnold Marsipal, said the national government through the National Airports Corporation must improve the current terminal to cater for these increases and promote a positive image of the province for business and tourism.
The National Airports Corporation in 2013 made known its intentions to upgrade the terminal and perimeter fencing, but these changes have yet to take place.
The current runway has no perimeter fencing and poses a constant risk to landing aircrafts and villagers living nearby. The terminal is also too small and due to lack of room capacity the security check point, the check in counter and departure lounge are all located in one room.
Makeshift market stalls selling local delicacies provide the only form of recreational activity to pass time while waiting for flights, whilst shades from trees keep the travellers cool.
Another concern raised is the lack of water supply at the terminal for the restroom facilities.
The terminal currently has 4 water tanks supplying the terminal, however once the tanks are emptied, sourcing water becomes an issue.