By way of not changing the subject, being “should Australians interfer in PNG affairs?”, I note that there is a pitiful article in the Post Courier about the decline of Woitape, with the Officer in Charge apparently gone walk-about, decline of the Local Government Council to “nil” and general dissillusionment of the locals.
It reiterates what has been reported by other ex-Kiaps on this site. I grew to like the people of Woitape and can see no reason for the present government of PNG to betray them in this manner.I quote the article hereunder:
Woes of Woitape
Woitape is cradled in a mountain-surrounded valley of crisp greenness, where vegetables grow without chemicals and the people live at peace. Not all that rare in rural Papua New Guinea, but Woitape is a part of the Goilala District of the Central Province and it is in a slump. The woes of Woitape are easily traced. The trail, many say, leads to the leadership of the district. “Our leaders are all down in Moresby,’’ agree many of the residents of Woitape station. “None of them comes back here, they all wait down at Konedobu to get money from the Government.’’
Woitape is not Telefomin or Balimo, in some far-flung corner of our massive nation. It is 25 minutes flight from Moresbyby an Airlines of PNG Twin Otter. Some locals walk into Port Moresby from there if they can’t afford the K253 one-way airfare. But Woitape might as well be next door to Telefomin for all the good it does.
The station is a sleepy hollow. Former Defence Force signaller Greg Gulolo is from Tanapai, a village 50 kilometres from Woitape. When he was a boy, the four-wheel-drive vehicles of the agriculture and patrol officers at Woitape could make it to Tanapai. Today, if any vehicle was still ticking over at the station, it would only go a kilometre or two down the track to the Fatima Catholic mission. The station has vehicles, but all are out of action. One tractor is stripped and stranded in the grass on the edge of a garden of corn. Another has been retrieved by former high school teacher Maria Mark and husband Augustine, who run the only trade store on the station. They have it under a corrugated iron roof, waiting in the hope a mechanic can be found to fix it. Until a few years ago, that would not have been a problem, for there was a Works Department workshop on the station.
Like so much of the government presence at Woitape, it has disappeared. The government officer in charge has not been there for months. Locals say there is no effective show by agriculture and other departments. The health centre has only low-key medical aides and all serious cases have to be airlifted out to Port Moresby. The vocational centre has been closed and abandoned for years. The admired mini-hydro power plant which was constructed a decade ago with European Union money has not operated, locals estimate, for four years. They can’t say for sure what the problem is.
A villager is still paid to be the hydro caretaker and lives in a permanent house next to the hydro plant, which is about five kilometres from the station. The good old days for station residents, of free power 24 hours a day, are long gone. Goilala people have an unenviable reputation in the nearby capital city. Goilala and crime are synonymous in the minds of many. But back at home in the hills, life for the villagers and the occasional visitor is calm, friendly and peaceful. Guests at the Woitape Lodge, formerly known as the Owen Stanley Lodge, however attest to the open-hearted welcome they get from the Goilala people. Visitors usually go on guided tours of nearby villages.
Other more adventurous ones go climbing in the mountains, including the Mt Edward Albert peak of . . . Feet. Their comments in the lodge’s visitors book reflect their sheer delight at their experiences. Greg Gulolo and Maria Mark, as well as more shy locals, agree that the Woitape Local Level Government is virtually non-existent.
The common supinity of the people allows dictators to rule unfettered, in my view. Why should I be so supine? Would it make any difference?
Norm the cynical old fart.