West Sepik people to benefit from industrial parks, says Governor

8:30 am on 23 December 2016

West Sepik people can gain access to jobs and economic opportunities from two planned industrial parks in the province, according to its Governor.

Vanimo, capital of West Sepik province, Papua New Guinea.

Vanimo, capital of West Sepik province, Papua New Guinea. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Amkat Mai and PNG's Treasurer Patrick Pruaitch this month visited China to sign an agreement with two investment groups, Shenzhen Vivafounders, and the Metallurgical Corporation of China.

The companies agreed to spend almost $US4billion to build two industrial parks - one to process timber products and other local natural resources; the other to process Chinese-sourced industrial products.

Mr Mai said the parks will take two to three years to construct and, according to the Chinese, create up to 30,000 jobs.

"And right now the people are happy because all the logs in West Sepik - West Sepik, according to the PNG government, produces 30% of the timber exports in the form of round logs - so they (West Sepik people) are very happy now because they will soon see downstream processing of timber in Vanimo, so they are very happy because they want to add value to their logs," said Amkat Mai.

Export of round logs is the main economic activity in West Sepik, but the profits largely go abroad.

Export of round logs is the main economic activity in West Sepik, but the profits largely go abroad. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Amkat Mai said the developments offer the province the chance to implement the free trade zone concept that a former West Sepik Govenor John Tekwie introduced over ten years ago.

Mr Mai said although the similarly large-scale Pacific Marine Industrial Zone along the coast in Madang has never really got off the ground after many years in the planning, the parks planned for his province were different.

He said there is much buy-in from local communities for the industrial parks in West Sepik where people have been starved for development and said the parks development will usher in major infrastructure projects such as bridges and a road to the remote south of the province, in Telefomin.

"As far as Telefomin and to connect to Western (Province). And the chiefs are eager for the project to happen because they are fed up and tired of being isolated. And people from that area are the most isolated. So they're happy for the project, so they're all co-operating with the government and also the developer," Amkat Mai said.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs