The Pro-Active Voice of the Morobe Business Sector

From the President’s Desk – 16th January

Welcome to the first Newsletter for 2015 and I hope the festive season was a good one and did not stress you out too much. The New Year definitely did not start off on a good note, with the dreadful killing of Mrs Moana Pisimi and murder of Tan Tiam Teng.

Moana was the wife of Thomas Pisimi the Managing Director of our member R & Sons Construction Company. For those who don’t know, R & Sons was one of the initial contractors for stage two of the Lae City Roads Rehabilitation Project and they did the concrete work on the Highland Highway from the Mobile Service Station to the Boundary Road turnoff, and the Scout Hall to the Eriku section of Huon Road. Thomas showed that he was very amenable to suggestions from the Eriku business houses for necessary variations to the planned works, especially for drainage requirements.

Tan Tiam Teng was the owner of Morobe Stationary and was mostly referred to simply as Mr Tan. A long term resident of Lae Mr Tan was the owner of Morobe Stationary, a member of the Chamber for many years. A gentle soul with his own wry sense of humour Mr Tan was forever donating cash or goods for needy causes and will be missed by all sectors of the Lae Community.

POWER

The recent announcement that PNG Power were heavily in debt, so much so that the Minister of Public Enterprises Hon Ben Micah declared a State of Emergency for PPL which was an extremely worrying sign and threw out a bad message to the private sector, especially to the Manufacturing Sector, who are dependent on regular and good quality power. You can read the Business Advantage PNG article on the PNG Power woes later in this newsletter.

The use of the State of Emergency to recover outstanding debts was heavily criticised by many including the leader of the opposition, and it was a right move by the Prime Minister to declare this illegal as announced in yesterday’s newspaper.

PPL have placed a long outstanding list of debtors in the daily newspapers. A few LCCI members were on the list, and it is possible that these have been caught up in the drive by PPL to collect money. It is likely that these company names are listed as a result of long outstanding disputes of some sort and subsequently the matter has been left dormant. However now that the magnifying glass is on collecting outstanding debts, there is a possibility that all current services may be cut to these companies, whilst this one matter remains outstanding. My advice if you are affected is to contact the PPL office or hotline to find a quick solution.

The public notice that PPL have been running with a stern warning that PPL will carry out a mass disconnection exercise throughout the country to recoup all moneys owing to the company. This notice set out the following briefened points:

  1. All customers with outstanding Credit meter and Easipay meter bills are given until 9th and 13th January to settle their bills.
  2. Illegal connections, meter tampering or any illegal connections or unauthorised users are to fill in applications before 9th and 13th
  3. Failure to comply can result in:
    • Disconnection
    • Court with fine of K100,000 for individuals and K500,000 for business houses
    • Six months Imprisonment

All queries are to be addressed to 7653 5261 hotline number.

If you are like me, you would immediately question why Easipay meter customers can have outstanding bills. The answer is simple – if there was an outstanding amount on the replaced Credit meter, then this will cause a disconnection even if you have sufficient current credit in the Easipay meter. Don’t get caught in this disconnection exercise, check if you have an outstanding balance.

On another matter, it was my misfortune to have my Easipay meter cut off at midnight last Friday. Luckily I was able to get it reactivated at midday on Saturday. The PPL technicians said that I had one of the early Easipay meters installed at my house, which due to the constant blackouts, sensed that something was wrong, and automatically shut down. PPL’s advice was that if it happens again they will install a new meter – I can hardly wait!

LAE PORT

The Lae Tidal basin project Phase 1 is now complete increasing the wharfage at the Lae Port by 240 meters.

The IPBC has agreed to proceed with Phase 2 of the Tidal Basin Development, which they say will lengthen the wharf by 460 meters bringing the total wharf length to 700 meters, allowing for 3 new berths bringing the total to 5 berths. In addition, four more quay cranes will bring the total number to six. The tidal basin will be dredged and extended a further 200 meters inshore. Additional dredging will increase the basin depth to 14 meters below sea level. Phase 2 will also see growth and enhancement of the general infrastructure including additional lighting, power, water, drainage and buildings.

At a meeting on Wednesday a team from the IPBC and PNG Ports, discussed the total Tidal Basin development with representatives from Morobe Provincial Government, City Planners, Landowners and the LCCI. PNG Ports said that part of the overall plan is to develop the land filled area around the Tidal Basin into an industrial estate. This will make available an estimated 340 hectares of land for a wide range of manufacturing, port related industries and general businesses. Whilst this is only in the planning stage yet, PNG Ports intend to erect a fence around the whole property shortly once all the approvals are in place.

We have invited both the IPBC and PNG Ports to make a presentation to the LCCI Members. When they are ready we will announce this presentation to be made at the first breakfast function for the LCCI this year. We will keep you all informed.

LAE NADZAB ROAD

We have been receiving many complaints about the state of the 3 to 5 mile area of the Highlands Highway, where the work on the road has virtually halted, leaving the existing road to deteriorate badly. The dust has been a major problem not only for the travelling vehicles but how the adjacent dwellers have put up with it is just amazing. Potholes have rapidly increased which has resulted in some vehicles being run off the existing road as well.

The problem has been that the work that is being done in this area is by the PNG Power contractor, who has been lopping trees so that the power lines can be relocated to allow the new road development to proceed. This contractor virtually stopped work as he was being blamed for the dust by the nearby residents, who abused and even threw stones at him and his workers.

The major road contractor Chinese Railway International cannot be handed possession of this section, which is part of stage 1B (from the 5 mile Swiss mission to the Boundary road roundabout), until the 40 metre corridor is clear of all structures and buildings, which has clearly not been done.

The LCCI brought this matter to the attention of the Project Manager who arranged a Site Construction meeting yesterday at the CRI Yalu construction camp.

Benson Nablu represented the LCCI at this meeting and as from today things will improve:

  1. A water truck will re-commence watering the dustiest areas today. This should be done every couple of hours.
  2. A grader and front end loader will be available to grade the worst sections and re-form the road shoulders.
  3. The task force will be arranged to provide security for the Tree Cutting contractor to complete his work speedily, and to the travelling public when a bypass must be used when the trees are being cut).
  4. Advance awareness about when and where trees are to be cut will be made to the LCCI for publishing to members, as well as to radio stations etc.
  5. The adjoining land owners who have been compensated for loss of property and improvements will be moved off the 40 meter corridor.

We hope that with these steps, CRI will be handed possession of this section soon, so that work on the road will re-commence as soon as possible.

We would like to hear any constructive criticisms, concerns or comments on the work on this road. We will take these issues up with the Project Managers or Engineers.

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PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT

LAE CITY DWELLERS FOOTBALL CLUB

The Lae City Dwellers Football Club Management and Players officially invite interested members of the Lae Chamber of Commerce, to attend their inaugural match against the Port Moresby Football Club.

The official competition begins on Saturday the 24th January at 3 PM in Lae at the Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium opening PNG’s National Soccer League Semi Professional soccer competition.

Lae City Dwellers Club is a new team entering the NSL competition for the first time as the only Football club representing Lae City and Morobe Province; therefore as new comers we have this opportunity and honour of inviting members of the Lae Chamber of Commerce for this special occasion.

Please come and watch what will be an exciting game. We do need support so if you wish to donate or provide any assistance in the form of cash or kind that would be most appreciated as we need much support and assistance.

Your attendance and presence as our guest of honour for this event will be most appreciated.

Please contact Peter Seske, the Business Development and Public Relations Manager, for further information on email pseske@gmail.com or mobile phone 71440788

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