By Leonard Fong Roka
Two important leaders were present to officially open the Ioro 2 Council of Elders (CoE) located in the Tumpusiong Valley of Panguna District.
Central Bougainville MP and Minister for Communication Hon. Jimmy Miringtoro and the head of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade office in Buka, Mr. Tim Bryson were greeted by an excited crowd of local people.
Mr Bryson stated the Bougainville is a friend to Australia and the government is committed to assist the region. There are 42 CoEs that the Australian government is committed to assist in terms of infrastructural development.
He continued to say that Australia has given the Panguna people K580,000 for the CoE infrastructural development and Ioro 2 and Ioro 1 were the first projects to attain such a funding across Bougainville.
Hon. Jimmy Miringtoro took time to explain the importance of the CoE system of governance.
“CoEs were established during the crisis and the government on Bougainville took them on-board around 2006,” Hon. Jimmy Miringtoro recalled.
“[At that time] the government was not that serious, so the CoE have suffered greatly in terms of finances and infrastructure.
“It was only in 2013 that the government is seriously supporting the CoEs with funding and so on, so as the MP for Central Bougainville I am up with all the CoEs and the Districts of Central Bougainville.”
Miringtoro continued stated that the National Government is serious about development and progress in Bougainville.
“PNG is not a rich country but we are trying our best to see change amongst our people,” Miringtoro continued, “We are managing our debts and trying to bring vital services to Bougainville.”
“We cannot make it alone. The government needs you people to contribute and to support.
“I thank you, the family that has given the government this piece of land; land is an issue of impediment across Bougainville.
“I tell you that government needs land and if people continue to harass development in their land without taking proper channels to address issues, Bougainville will not progress.”
Chief of Enamira, the land where the CoE office is located, Mr Michael Pariu asked Mr Miringtoro and Mr Bryson in his speech to fund an aid post, a women’s resource centre and a community hall. To this both leaders responded positively and Ioro 2 CoE will get this funding assistance.
The funding assistance to this office began flowing in as early as 2007 when the building was actually erected. This packages including water hoses, an aid post and a police office and water tanks.
Then over the years a water tank and the whole water hose then stretching nearly a kilometre and half was privatize by a local community police office. When the community saw his actions they also rushed onto the remaining hose.
The next lot of funding saw a new water tank and the extension of the CoE building and ablution blocks. The opening ceremony along saw new water hoses that are now stretching about 2 kilometres.
For the opening ceremony Hon. Miringtoro made K10,000 of public funds available and the community added some K5,000 including singsing and other ritual ceremonies related to house blessings.