Tok Piksa – Episode 16, 2014

Kingsford Kassen, who took  over as acting works manager says government pay conditions need to be reviewed  to stem the brain drain.


The Morobe Provincial Works Department has been in the spotlight over the last three years. The department brought criticism after the initial failure of the Lae Roads Project.


When Kingsford Kassen took over as acting provincial works manager, the department worked through a backlog of outstanding payments and dishonoured contract. But now, he’s faced with a new challenge. He’s losing his civil engineers at an alarming rate.


In the last three years, three of the Works Departments, most promising, left for new job opportunity in the private sector. The uptake of civil engineers has increased in the last five years, with the construction boom throughout the country, and the LNG Project, fuelling much of that demand.


For the Works Department, losing engineers means that, as a department, it’s losing the expathies needed to monitor and supervise projects.


The exit of promising young engineers stems from their work and pay conditions. For instance, a graduate engineer is paid under a thousand kina; even the department’s most senior engineers have no other benefits apart from their salary and superannuation.


Kassen says they can’t compete with average private sector salaries, up to three thousand kina per fortnight.

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