Madang airport redevelopment should revive local economy
Madang Airport Rehabilitation, the new four lane road, Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ) and the Usino/Bundi and Bogia districts rural electrification programs should revive the economy and restore the province back to its original status as one of the leading provinces in the Momase region.
This development can take place and become more tangible to benefit the people if the current law and order issues in the province are gradually minimized and eradicated soon.
The Madang Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, Mr Kevin Murray said this while giving an overview of the economic boom that is set to pickup in Madang province when these major impact projects are completed.
“The work on the airport redevelopment project has already started and it should be completed in 18 months’ time.
The redevelopment work includes the extension of the runway by another 200 metres and the construction of the new terminal building as well,” a pleased Mr Murray said.
“The extension of the runway will allow the airport to take in large Boeing jets and the new terminal building will complement the new runway.
It will boost the image of the province and also encourage growth in the tourism sector.”
Mr Murray said former prime minister Peter O’Neill made a commitment to fund some of the major infrastructures in Madang when he visited the province and performed ground breaking ceremony on the Airport Rehabilitation Project and the opening of the new look Banab bridge along the North Coast highway in February 2019.
He added further that the work on the PMIZ project and the new four lane road in the heart of the commercial centre has not started earlier as expected.
“We are just waiting for the release of the funding so that work on the two major projects can get off the ground,” he said.
The president said more new buildings are being constructed in Madang and new businesses activities have taken over the small business activities in town seeing old buildings and businesses being demolished to create space for the new ones.
He also explained that the road transport industry is greatly affected with the deteriorating road conditions and the law and order problems such as armed hold ups and looting of trucks on a daily basis along Lae-Madang highway in recent times.
Mr Murray said business operations of some companies who are relying heavily on road system to transport their goods to Madang are now affected.
The trucking companies are losing money and are now facing imminent closure due to the loss incurred along the highway.
The new shipping service in and out of Madang is mainly for passengers and not for the cargoes and that affects the flow of goods and services into Madang. The province needs a new shipping service to provide a reliable service between Lae and Madang on a weekly basis.
He said law and order is a big issue that is affecting businesses in town and effective policing is needed to maintain law and order issues so that public confidence on the operations of the police force is maintained.
The increasing number of settlements has also contributed to the law and order issue in town. In tourism, Mr Murray said the number of tourists had declined significantly as compared to the past but the people are still very friendly to the tourists who visited the province in the past few months.
Few tourists who came on board the tourist liner chartered a plane and visited Goroka and returned back very impressed with the hospitality of the local people. There is an increasing number of major hotels and guest houses in town providing budget accommodation rates to encourage more people to visit Madang and stay at their guest houses and hotels.
In health, Murray believes Madang needs to establish a new provincial health authority to be entrusted with the responsibility to oversee the delivery of health services to the people in the province.
In education, he says Madang has a number of higher learning educational institutions such as Divine Word University and UPNG Open Campus, PNG Maritime College, Madang Teachers College, Madang Technical College and Tusbab Secondary School who are offering certificates, diplomas and degree courses.
The Chamber also acknowledges the amount of money that had been spent on the hosting of Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation Summit (APEC) in Port Moresby is now beneficial to PNG. Usino/Bundi will be the first recipients of K800 million for the funding of the rural electrification program in the district this year.
The K500 million bond issue has also attracted a lot of potential investors who are looking at coming into the country to invest in the upcoming Papua LNG project and the world class Wafi/Golpu project in Morobe that are set to get off the ground.
The two major impact projects will trigger an economic boom in the country and Madang that will eventually lead to the recovery of the economy.
The question now is whether the people of Madang are ready to embrace these changes given the recent criminal activities going on in Madang town and the province.
If the attitude of the people are not changed then the slogan, “Beautiful Madang” as one of the pristine paradise in the Pacific is just a phrase.