The people of Kokoda in the Oro Province on Tuesday witnessed the historical signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for works to begin on the Divune Hydro Power Project.
Nearly 40 years since the hydro project on the Divune River was first talked about, the project is now coming into reality, thanks to PNG Power Ltd (PPL) and the Asian Development Bank.
Project funding will come under the ADB’s Town Electrification Improvement Program (TEIP) and major civil works is expected to begin later this year.
The MOU was signed between the eight (8) clan members of the Divune Landowner Company, the Oro Provincial Government and PPL.
The signing gives way now for PPL to have access to the project site and commence work as the developer.
During the signing ceremony at Waju Village in Kokoda, Oro Governor Garry Juffa said that the project had been delayed for too long because of misunderstandings amongst the people but praised the landowners for the effort in ensuring it finally got off the ground.
“This project has been delayed because of disputes and unhappiness but it is now encouraging to see the landowners coming and working together.
“If we didn’t come together then we won’t have this project,” Governor Juffa said.
He said that when power comes into this area and supplies the rest of Oro, they will be able to see economic development in which they could participate in.
He stressed that the purpose of the MOU was to open the doors so that PNG Power and ADB can begin work on the project.
“Now that we have signed the MOU, we must allow the developer PNG Power and ADB to come in and commence work and we will assist them in whatever way we can so that we can deliver this major project,” he said.
He added that the provincial government and the landowner company was satisfied that the MOU protects all of their interest and it is a document that can lead to greater agreements and more stringent arrangements that will ensure sharing of benefits from spin-offs.
Representing the PPL CEO, Acting General Manager Asset Management Obed Batia said that PPL was ready to support the project and make it a reality for the people of Kokoda.
Mr Batia said that when the Divune Hydro Power Project is complete, it will produce 3 Megawatts (MW) which will make PPL able to supply power in Kokoda and down to Popondetta and Oro Bay.
“PPL will work in partnership to develop the energy sector in Oro Province as we see a potential in supplying electricity here in the Oro Province,” he said.
He called on Governor Juffa and Sohe MP and Minster for Higher Education, Science and Technology to work in partnership with PPL to move the project.
Chairman of the Divune Landowner Company, Paulus Uwari acknowledged PPL for the commitment in getting the project underway.
“Without cooperation among all of us, we wouldn’t have seen this MOU signing undertaken and I stand here saying things have progressed well.
“Today we can see the fruits of this cooperation between everyone and I say thank you to PPL for making all this possible for the people of Divune,” Mr Uwari said.
He said that this was the beginning of good things to happen in the province adding that power is the key to any development and it can grow from thereon.
Mr Uwari added the people should expect to see a lot of social and economic development when the Divune Hydro Power Project is complete.
The development of the Divune Hydro Power Project will see the building of transmission and service lines to Kokoda Station and down to Popondetta, connecting villages along the road.
From Popondetta, supply will also be extended to Girua Airport and to Oro Bay.
PNG Power Ltd looks forward to working with the Oro Provincial Government and the Divune Landowner Company to develop and complete the Divune Hydro Power Project in 2015.