|Subject: Wayback in Wabag
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Date Posted: Fri, Jan 25 2008, 10:26:26am
I don't understand why Engans keep putting our province down, Refer to the Weekender in the National - Extract below
Way back in Wabag
By DERRICK KII REUBEN Parliamentary Reporter
ON December 15 last year, I flew out of Port Moresby’s Jacksons International airport for Mt Hagen on my way to my birth place Wabag in Enga province.
At Kagamuga Airport I had a teary reunion with some cousin brothers who I had not seen in 15 years.
We boarded a 15 seater bus for the 10 minute drive into Mt Hagen, PNG’s third largest city.
It was Saturday, the city was packed with people especially rural villagers who were there to either shop or sell their produce at the Hagen Market.
My cousins, Maan and George warned me about pickpockets and bag snatchers who were mingling among the people.
It took us about 45 minutes to reach the border of Western Highlands and Enga. The road was sealed, the ride comfortable. However after leaving the border, the drive towards Wabag and to Porgera Gold Mine was a different experience. The road was deteriorating, there were potholes every where.
Worse still drunkards both male and female roamed carelessly on the main highway.
Before Wapenamada I could see my old high school, St Pauls Lutheran High. Apart from a small office building with a huge sign with the words ‘Ipatas Complex’, everything else seemed unchanged.
Past Wapenamanda town and the newly established Mukurumada CIS station leading up to Wabag town, it was deserted due to tribal warfare in that area.
What used to be mission stations, farms, community centers, business houses and high covenant residential homes along the highway were no longer there.
Wild grasses have taken over the whole valley - I couldn’t believe my eyes.
After 30 minutes drive through no man’s land, we arrived in Wabag, the capital of Enga province. I was like a foreigner in my own town.
The town was silent and in a very sorry state. There were the same old buildings on the main street, most of them closed or locked permanently and only few opened for business.
I realized that in the 15 years I had been away there has hardly any new infrastructure development.
Apart from the main administration block or ‘Ipatas Centre’ and the newly constructed BSP Wabag branch, every else was the same.
Pigs roamed freely throughout the town.
I saw a lot of old cargo containers everywhere. In fact what I learned was that the locals refer to their town as ‘container town’.
I discovered that the containers were used by locals and Asians as kai bars or small tucker-shops. Most of the sold alcohol as well.
It was annoying to know that alcohol was being sold in the center of the town when the provincial government under the current governor’s regime has fought strongly against the sale and consumption of alcohol in the province.
With the absence of major shops, I wondered where public servants and residents purchased groceries.
A public servant and close friend explained, “As you can see we do not have any shops here, what we do is use the Government vehicles to do major shopping of household goods, office and hardware items in Mt Hagan.”
For locals it is a K8 to K10 bus ride to Mt Hagen to do their shopping and business.
I couldn’t help but wonder about all the news we hear about developments and changes taking place in Enga province.
Is it just media propaganda to please the sponsors and politicians?
From my point of view, the province will remain least developed in the years to come unless competent people from outside intervene to run the public service machinery, control the law and order situation and create a safe and sound environment for investors.
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