JAPAN TO BUILD 15 BRIDGES IN BOUGAINVILLE

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‘This will change lives in Bougainville’

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 19, 2010) - Bougainvilleans living along the Kokopau-Buin Highway were proud last Friday when a significant event took place out of Kokopau town.

Hundreds of people turned up to witness the ground breaking ceremony of the PGK90 million [US$33 million] bridge project given to Bougainvilleans by the Government of Japan in Tinputz. Construction of the 40 meter Rawa 1 bridge, in Tinputz, North Bougainville will see the building of 15 high bridges throughout the mainland of Bougainville, which will end in 2013.

Works Secretary Joel Luma, National Planning officials and other Government dignitaries were present to witness the ceremony.

"Japan, thank you very much for giving us PGK90 million. We never contemplated to have this kind of money coming from Japan to the people of Bougainville. The people of Bougainville are filled with joy and happiness today."

"These bridges will have economic progress for Bougainville," Minister Ogio said.

Regional MP Fidelis Semoso said this was the biggest life changing project for ordinary Bougainvilleans.

"This is going to change the lives of Bougainvilleans. Students will be able to cross these difficult rivers without any problems, business houses will be able to prosper because of these bridges and most of all farmers will be able to transport their produce without any problems," Mr. Semoso said.

ABG President Tanis also thanked the National Government for hearing the cry of Bougainvilleans and allowing the construction of the 15 bridges to start in Bougainville.

An exchange of notes for the design of the project was signed in February 2009 for a total of about PGK1.5 million [US$554,000] and the Government of Japan extended a total amount of PGK88 million [US$32,000] for the project during that same year. The Japanese Government’s contribution remedies the difficulties faced by the people in the rural areas in Bougainville. The Government of Japan hopes the project will strengthen the existing relationship between the two countries.

[The following related story ran in the PNG Post-Courier:]

BOUGAINVILLE LEADERS: LITTLE AID REACHES PEOPLE ‘We want to touch these projects’

By Gorethy Kenneth PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 19, 2010) - BOUGAINVILLE leaders [say they have not seen] tangible or major projects from donor agencies and non-government organisations that were allegedly operating and pumping millions of kina into the region.

The leaders claimed that donor agencies boasted hundreds of millions of kina was being spent on Bougainville.

Higher Education Minister and North Bougainville MP Michael Ogio told his Raua electorate that there was nothing to show for the millions of kina worth of projects from donor agencies that had operated in the region since the civil war ended.

He was speaking at the official ground breaking ceremony of the K90 million bridge project from the people and Government of Japan to the people of Bougainville last Friday.

Japanese Ambassador to PNG, Hajime Nishiyama, executives from the Japanese contractor and Japanese officials were present for the occasion at the Raua 1 bridge site to start the construction which will see the builidng of 15 high-tech bridges in Bougainville.

Regional Member for Boug-ainville and Parliamentary Secretary assisting the Prime Minister on Bougainville Affairs, Fidelis Semoso said: "We have yet to see tangible development in our region.

"We want to feel, we want to touch, and we want to smell these projects.

"Other donor agencies have not given us these," Mr Semoso said.

"You see when Japan gave this K90 million, they never asked for counter funding.

"Japan did not say you give us K20 million first before we give you K70 million.

"There are other donor agencies or non-government organisations that come into Bougainville with millions of kina for projects and are asking around for counterpart funding.

"Where will my people get counterpart funding?

"People of Bougainville, this is the true meaning of grant aid - what Japan has just given us," said Mr Semoso.

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