PORT MORESBY DESERVES RELIABLE ELECTRICITY

Editorial

PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Aug. 22, 2008) – The long suffering residents of our cities and towns will be both encouraged and on edge about the demonstration yesterday of the beefed up Rouna power scheme outside Port Moresby.

The people of Moresby will be feeling happier with the promise by politicians and officials that the days of frequent power cuts will soon be a thing of the past.

By January, a life of regular, reliable and unceasing power should be the standard. For Port Moresby.

At the same time, the people living in Lae will be anxiously hoping that their current bout of "load shedding’’ (planned blackouts) will soon end.

And the people living in most of our other urban centres will be muttering something like "good luck to Moresby and Lae, what about us in the forgotten places’’.

All in all, the urban workers of Papua New Guinea have been through a decade of dispiriting power supply.

Excuses have been made year after year, while rates charged to the PNG Power customers have jumped in double digit bounds in the past several years.

The argument is that the tariffs have fallen way behind the costs of maintaining the hugely capital intensive system, and that a lot of regular checks and precautionary work had not been done for a long time.

This resulted in the need for expensive, major rehabilitation work.

PNG Power has been plagued by in-house ‘’power cuts’’ too, with ups and downs in management. The chief executive officer is under suspension again, his deputy has been pushed to one side and another officer put in charge.

The people who have grown accustomed to digging out the candles, the firewood or kerosene burners and the other makeshift arrangements during blackouts will be keen to see that the Rouna promise is kept.

The people in our second city, Lae, will be anxious to see that their services are upgraded quickly and that the days of unheralded zapping of electrical appliances will disappear.

They will want assurances that it is not just Port Moresby that will recline in guaranteed light.

Meanwhile, the smaller centres that rely either on hydro or the expensive diesel generator setups are waiting to hear if the rumours of unpaid diesel bills are true.

Fuel prices have skyrocketed.

Can PNG Power afford to keep importing the diesel to keep urban centres happy?

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