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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, June 20) – After 18 months in the dark, Tari township is finally lit up by electricity, thanks to Papua New Guinea’s new Southern Highlands rural electrification (SHRE) project.

Philip Undialu, chairman of Hides joint venture, a landowner partner with PNG Power in the PGK80 million [US$27.5 million] project, confirmed that electricity supply was restored to the township at about 4pm on Monday.

Mr Undialu said PNG Power technicians last week repaired the standby generator at the Dauli mini-hydro dam.

He said as part of the project component, technicians would also work in overhauling and repairing the turbines to the mini-hydro dam that had been defunct for some years.

Mr Undialu said power lines, switch boxes and all electrical facilities in the town were repaired before the power was switched on.

He said SHRE would provide "free power" for the next six months to residents and business houses.

He said there would be an "easy pay" policy applied after the six months.

In Tari yesterday, there was jubilation as residents and business houses breathed a sigh of relief after being in the dark for 18 months.

Among these people was Tari mayor, businessman and Tari-Poro Open candidate George Tagobe.

He has been very vocal and critical on many occasions about the non-availability of power to Tari despite the fact that the nearby Hides gas project supplies electricity to power the world-class Porgera gold mine in Enga province.

Mr Tagobe said businesses and economic activities in Tari and Hela would now pick up and there would be effective flow of Government services like health at the Tari hospital.

He said now that power supply into Tari was restored, candidates and voters in Hela wanted the Electoral Commission to ensure that counting of votes for the three Hela Open seats was conducted in Tari.

Mr Tagobe said there were no problems faced when counting for the last Koroba-Lake Kopiago by-election was carried out in Tari last year, and the commission should allow for Hela votes to be counted in Tari.

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