Pomio District in East New Britain province is remote and isolated. But the coming of a multi-million Kina oil palm project into the district has put the district as one of the fast developing regions in the province.
And new developments means new challenges for the people. Amongst them is law and order that the district wants to strengthen.
Pomio District is a world on its own and most of people are scattered in small hamlets along the coastline and up in the mountains.
The district’s headquarters at Palmalmal is cut off from the rest of East New Britain province. Almost all the basic services needed by the people are located here.
To get to Palmalmal, it requires a trip by air on small commercial airplanes or a 6-hour trip on a boat. But unlike the rest of East New Britain, Pomio District is going through a rapid change.
The advent of oil palm has since generated a cash economy for the 5,000 plus people living here.
In 2015, the landowner groups invited Gilford, a subsidiary business arm of the RH Group of companies, through the Public Private Partnership concept, to come into their land and plant oil palm.
The basic knowledge is that, they want better roads, schools, and health services for the people, their basic needs that they have received much of it for many years.
But the coming of oil palm has brought with it new challenges to the people, that centres around law and order.
Yesterday, Police commissioner, Gary Baki, flew into Palmalmal from Kokopo to officiate at the opening of a new police residence, built by the oil palm developers.
And he chose the occasion to remind the people about the importance of law and order in the country especially in developing areas, like Pomio District.
The people in the District know all too well that if they do not invite foreign investors onto their land, the district will not change.
Its education, health infrastructures and public machinery are upgraded, amongst them, is the law and order system.
The Police Commissioner told the people to look into the future, it terms of alleviating law and order issues that may derive from the oil palm development.
“Having a proper law and order system in place would mean more investors will come and invest here,” said Baki.
Baki also asked for an open dialogue between the political heads of the district and the police department to make sure law and order is maintained in this isolated part of the province.