Proposal By Digicel To Withdraw From Bougainville Concerns Government

Parliament to investigate; Digicel only company providing service to large parts of ABG

By Sebastian Hakalits

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 17, 2017) – The Autonomous Bougainville Government Parliamentary Committee on Information, Awareness and Public Consultation will conduct an inquiry on issues surrounding Digicel’s proposed Telecommunication Service withdrawal from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

The Chairman of the Committee and Member for Lule Constituency, Joseph Nabuai said his Committee was mandated by the House to look into matters contained in the Matter of Public Importance presented in the Bougainville House of Representatives in June 2017 by the Member for Taonita Tinputz David Brown.

Members of the House of Representatives consider the importance of telecommunication services in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and have referred the Matter of Public Importance to the Parliamentary Committee on Information to consider and table a report in the House in its next meeting.

Mr Nabuai said the Committee has approved its Terms of Reference which will allow the Committee to inquire on;

  • The cause of continues vandalism of Digicel’s assets and properties
  • Land royalty/Rentals paid to landowners
  • Digicel’s agreement with landowners on erecting Digicel towers on customary land
  • The agreement between Digicel and ABG Government
  • Digicel’s estimated annual revenue in Bougainville
  • Options for recouping Digicel assets and properties
  • Other related matters

The Inquiry will involve onsite visits and public consultations in selected sites in Bougainville and a Public Hearing in Buka. The site visits start in the Konnou Constituency on Monday 17thJuly 2017.

The Chairman vibrantly talks on the importance of communication service in Bougainville especially at this very crucial time as Bougainville is approaching and is in due process towards achieving referendum and the proposal by Digicel to pull out from Bougainville will have a great impact on the communication service as well as the development and peace building process here in Bougainville because of the fact that Digicel is the only reliable telecommunication service where bulk of the population is using to contact each other and do business transactions in and outside of Bougainville.

He said in Bougainville, there are only three telecommunication services and Digicel is the biggest telecommunication service provider in Bougainville while Telikom PNG and Bemobile/Vodaphone are centralized only in Arawa, Buka and Nissan Island.

“If Digicel decides to pull out from Bougainville, everything will be in chaos because Digicel PNG is the only reliable telecommunication service in Bougainville where people both in the private and public sectors and business houses operating in Bougainville are using its services”, said Mr. Nabuai.

“We are very keen to get public participation in this important inquiry. The inquiry is divided into two Phases. Phase one will be held from 17th- 28th July 2017 in the selected sites/locations throughout the region. Phase two is a Public Hearing which will be conducted in the Parliament Chamber from 1st – 4th August 2017.”

We are inviting submissions from interested individuals, groups and other stakeholders and for further information about the inquiry or for your submission to the Committee contact the Inquiry Manager on 73049859 or visit the Committee Secretariat Office located at the Parliament Building, Kubu, and Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

PNG Post-Courier
Copyright © 2017 PNG Post-Courier. All Rights Reserved

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