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VILLAGERS IN PNG’S REMOTE GOGIOK FIX AIRSTRIP Air service only practical way in, or out

By Palus Tali and Frank Rai PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, May 6, 2010) - People a remote village in the steep terrain of the remote Yus LLG in Kabwum district will for the first time in 12 years travel out from their village.

Cramped by steep gorges and fast following rivers with leech-infested rain forests and lime stone cornered mountains, the Gogiok people now have access to get out of their village by small aircraft.

The only airstrip that serves more than 500 people in the area was repaired by the people using spades, bush knives and sticks.

The Gogiok airstrip will now help the people to transport goods and services for the community school, health centre and transport cash crops and market produce into Lae.

This airstrip maintenance was made possible by the Kabwum joint district planning and budget priority committee (JDP&BPC) through community representative Jasengke Sipping who submitted a project proposal on behalf of the people last year. The JDP&BPC, under the chairmanship of Kabwum MP and Defence Minister Bob Dadae allocated PGK57,000 [US$20,000] for the project that saw people with spades and bush knives clearing and patching the airstrip last month. The times of walking for six hours from Gogiok to Diningat village and Wantoat station in the Markham district, then cutting through dangerous terrains and rivers have become a thing of the past.

Mr. Sipping said the people had found it hard to sell their coffee, vegetables and tobacco as they walked but the airstrip will help them now.

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