It has been three years since I was elected to represent my people and hometown as the Member of Parliament for Lae Open; I did not aspire to be a politician, but over 3000 women (mostly widows) paid for my nomination fee and asked me to contest.
When I entered office, Lae has a lot of legacy issues with bad roads, law and order, rundown clinics and classrooms among many others.
Like any districts in Papua New Guinea Lae gets only K10million as DSIP funding annually. Our population is more 300,000 people and with K10million we can't solve all our problems.
The Lae City Authority Act which was passed by Parliament in 2015 was pushed forward and approved to be implemented by the then O'Neill-Abel government.
LCA was established with a budget of K1.5million for three years to get it off the ground. We had a lot of challenges establishing it with strong opposition from the existing Lae City Council which was stagnant for many years.
When LCA took over, we were able to collect revenue, have proper accounting and asset registry systems in place to manage the council.
Through LCA and our DSIP funding, we first and foremost helped in fixing our law and order issues. Our valuable partners ICTSI, Ahi Hope Foundation, NKW, NGCB, PNG Fisheries Authority and Papindo helped us to build three brand new police stations (Malahang, Omili, Bundi Camp) and bought a total of 16 police vehicles for our Lae Metropolitan Command.
With proactive policing methods introduced by our then Lae Met Supt (now ACP NCD/Central) Anthony Wagambie Jnr major crimes rate in Lae was reduced by a massive 80%.
Thankyou also to the PNG-Australia partnership through the Australian Federal Police who have funded a brand-new police communication centre for Lae. Digicel PNG who have been kind enough to have a reliable toll-free police emergency number installed for residents to report crime and seek assistance from police.
We still have petty crimes happening in the city, but we are doing our best to contain it under our new Met Supt Chris Kunyanban and our partners in installing CCTV cameras at Main Market, Top Town and Eriku to counter criminal elements.
When major crime rates decreased, business houses started having confidence operating in a safe city. The Lae Chamber of Commerce started supporting LCA and business houses started investing in our city. They have also pledge support to our police, health, education and community initiatives.
We have companies like Islands Petroleum who have partnered through its colour run charity event raised funds to support schools like Milfordhaven and Butibam Primary School and Milfordhaven Helath clinic.
We have Digicel PNG who will be renovating our bus stops for five years, NKW bought and donated a brand-new tractor and many others who have taken initiatives to keep our city clean and safe for everyone.
The Australian Government through its Consular General's office in Lae has been very supportive towards the LCA's vision and mission to make a better Lae. Together we have introduced a labour mobility scheme for our skilled and semi-skilled people in our city. We have now launched a hand up program to assist families affected by COVID-19 by providing cash for service to our mothers and widows in our 23 wards in Lae district.
We have also secured a massive K30million funding from World Bank for our Youth Empowerment Program for five years. Several major companies in Lae have raised their hands to support the youths that will be trained under this program by employing them. This will commence by the end of this year.
We are in talks with the New Zealand government to build a brand new Lae Main Market for our mothers across Morobe and the Highlands regions.
Thankyou also to our Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu who has been supportive in making funds available through the MPG to counter fund our suburban road upgrades and other programs.
Since change of government a year ago, the PANGU Pati-led government has made funding available to fix the Unitech-Tent City road and also the Lae-Nadzab highway.
The Japanese government is also funding the upgrade of Nadzab airport to international standard and that will boost our ambition for a greater Lae with the establishment of Nadzab township.
All these have been achieved because of the faith and trust these organisations have in the LCA and the leadership and team efforts we have in Lae.
When we are transparent, accountable and manage our limited funding and resources wisely, we can at least fix some of our major problems in the city. Everything rise and fall on leadership and good, prudent management.
I have inherited 20years of negligence and indecisiveness in addressing issues in the country's second largest city and industrial hub. Criticisms are healthy and we are optimistic to see greater changes happening in Lae from now into the future.
Let's all work together in partnership to make Lae a safe and conducive place for our children and their children to come.