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Aropa Re-Opens after 24 Years

The Kieta Aropa Airport in Bougainville has been re-opened on the 12th of December 2014 after 24 years of closure. The significant opening event marks another milestone for Central Bougainville and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Minister for Communication and Information and Member for Central Bougainville Honourable Jimmy Miringtoro said,Aropa Airport was top on his project development priorities that had given him more challenges than any other projects he had undertaken during his two terms in office.

Honourable Miringtoro said when he took office, Central Bougainville was deeply divided as they just came out of the Crisis. He said there were areas that were prohibited and just before the ceasefire which gave way to peace on the Island, Aropa was the scene of a large-scale confrontation between parties to the conflict.

He explained that because blood was spilled on the area where the airport is, it was according to the customary law that a reconciliation feast be held in order to remove such ban.

"This was the kind of situation that prevailed when I got together a group of landowners and people in the area to start clearing the bush around the airport. Eventually I became more determine to reopen the airport and continue to inject funds towards the restoration work through the Joint District Planning and Budgetary Priority Committee," Miringtoro said.

He said regardless of frustrating setbacks and funds wasted, negative aspects of the airport development are behind now as they move forward to seeing this airport fully operational.

Miringtoro proudly said that all challenges have been met with the help of the National Government which continues to demonstrate its willingness to help and its commitment to the peace process and the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

He further expressed that projects like Aropa Airport are a uniting force for the people of Bougainville. They bring people together as one. People from everywhere will come to use this service and it will be a meeting place and a common ground for all our people from South, Central and North Bougainville including our outer islands.

Aropa Airport opens a new chapter in our lives. It opens Bougainville to the outside world. Through this airport opportunities, doors will be opened for tourism and other businesses and investments in the region. This Airport will support and complement other services and infrastructures already established. This service will broaden our horizons and to become part of the global world.

Minister Miringtoro said they are looking at upgrading the airport to international level as it is situated close to the international border of Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea and therefore it will revert to its former status as an international airport.

Aropa Airport adds to the number of services currently available in Central Bougainville including Banking, Police Service, Postal Service, Mobile Phone Networks, Shipping and Port Services. He appeal to his people in Central Bougainville to act and think responsibly. He advised them that there are proper ways and means available to deal with land issues and payment issues and not to destroy Government property and disrupt services beneficial to everyone in Bougainville. He said there is no room for such behaviour and attitude as it is hindrance to the development process in the region. He emphasised that this behaviour and attitude will not be tolerated and anyone found responsible of destroying Government property and interfering with Government Services will face full force of the law.

Minister and Member Jimmy Miringtoro encouraged people of Bougainville to take ownership of the infrastructure and services provided by the Government and look after them. He said in this way the Government will be happy to provide more services to Bougainville.

He called on all leaders to educate their people about the importance of the services. He said the reason why many problems arise around high impact projects is because leaders are not responsible as leaders. Leaders must be at the forefront to resolve issues quickly so that the project that costs a lot of money is not affected.

Miringtoro commended the National Airport Corporation, Red Sea Builders, Dekenai Constructions and Kompani Constructors for their hardwork put into getting the airport ready for the official opening and landowners including people of Aropa Valley and all those who have contributed in making the Aropa Airport Project a success.

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