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ABANDONED ROADWORKS NEED K33M (Post-Courier 13/3/03)

WORK on the Port Moresby roads abandoned by Global and Curtain Brothers can start again if National Capital District Commission undertakes to pay the outstanding bills of K33 million. The State has already overspent by K17 million on a kina-for-kina arrangement between the NCDC and National Government brokered by the Morauta government. This came to light after NCD MP Bill Skate, pressed by constituents on the plight of the roads, set aside his Speaker’s hat and called for fast-tracking of payments. Global is owed K18 million while Curtain Brothers need to be paid K15, but Mr Skate said both firms were willing to resume work if half of those amounts are paid. But interviews with Planning Minister Sinai Brown and Treasurer and Finance Minister Bart Philemon indicate that the State is not likely to release any funds. Both leaders said that over the last 10 years, K400 million had been spent on infrastructure in Port Moresby, including the Jackson’s Airport and Poreporena Freeway. Mr Philemon said the original stretch of road to be worked on was from Manu Autoport to Badili, and from Badili via Koki to Ela Beach. Mr Brown said this was not tendered, there was no scoping work and even the bill of quantities — indicating how much dirt could be moved and how much needed to be put back was not done. Mr Philemon said the Morauta Cabinet under the acting chairmanship of Michael Ogio (when Sir Mekere was out of PNG) had endorsed moves to relocate the Two-Mile stretch from Manu Autoport to Badili to a stretch of 1.6km between Five-Mile traffic lights and Four-Mile. Mr Brown said that the original stretch was to cost K76 million and this was not revised, there were no new tenders, no scoping work and no bill of quantities again when the Morauta Cabinet changed the work. He said that under the kina-for-kina arrangements, the State had paid K55.7 million for work done so far for the initial K76 million project. He said that under the arrangement agreed to, they would have had to fork out K38 million but ended picking up the tab for an additional K17.7 million. Mr Brown said that NCD citizens will just have to exercise patience — something that rural communities have been exercising without roads — for years while this is sorted out.

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GOVERNMENT departments and statutory authorities owe PNG Power about K6.4 million in electricity bills, the chief executive officer of PNG Power Lawrence Solomon said yesterday. According to their records, Mr Solomon said national government departments alone owe up to K2.2 million while statutory authorities owe the balance. He revealed this when confirming that PNG Power has reconnected electrical supply to the Defence Force headquarters at Murray Barracks in Port Moresby on Tuesday afternoon. Mr Solomon said in a statement that the power was restored on Tue Feb 11 at 4.55pm after PNG Power received a cheque of K1,148,043.18 from the Finance Department at 4.15pm the same day. He said electrical supply to the Defence headquarters was disconnected after they failed to respond to a 48 hours disconnection notice served to their administration officer, Kome Lari who signed the notice on Feb 5 as shown on the duplicate of 48 hours notice. PNG Power was lenient enough to continue supply to the Defence Force headquarters for another six days before it disconnected supply. The Defence Force bills were for the months of Nov and Dec 2002 and not Dec to Jan 2003 as stated in this paper yesterday, said the statement. The bill for Nov 2002 was K432,589.51 and Dec 2002 was K715,453.67. The other two disciplinary forces including Police and Correctional Services also had their electricity supply disconnected yesterday for non-payment for their Nov and Dec 2002 bills. They were also served 48 hours disconnection notices which were signed by their officers on Feb 5 this year, said the CEO. The CS were fortunate to have their bill of K266,069 paid along with the Defence Force bill and electricity supply was reconnected to its Kerepia Barracks at 5.25pm yesterday. Police headquarter is still disconnected as no payment has been made for their outstanding amount of K420,877.88. Mr Solomon appealed to all the customers to understand that like every other businesses, they need to pay their creditors therefore, they need to collect from them to pay the creditors.

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