On Tuesday, June 20, 2023, Prime Minister and Pangu Pati leader, Hon. James Marape, received the Lufa District Five-Year Development Plan 2023-2027 amidst a poignant gathering in rural Lufa Station. The event witnessed an emotionally charged moment as three-year-old Thabbel Adolf, symbolising the daily challenges faced by the people of Unavi in remote Lufa, presented the plan to PM Marape in the presence of thousands of attendees, set against the backdrop of the majestic Mt Michael.
Renowned for its coffee production, Lufa District, located in Eastern Highlands, has long struggled with the transportation of coffee to market due to the absence of adequate road infrastructure. Notably, Crater Mountain in Unavi is famed for its coffee, which is manually transported to market or shipped by air.
The Prime Minister was accompanied by Eastern Highlands Governor, Hon. Simon Sia; State Enterprises Minister and United Resources Party Leader, Hon. William Duma; Goroka MP and Agriculture Minister, Hon. Aiye Tambua; Finance and Planning Minister, Hon. Rainbo Paita; Coffee Minister Hon. Joe Kuli; Obura-Wonenara MP, Hon. John Boito; Kainantu MP, Hon. William Hagahuno; Unggai-Bena MP, Hon. Kinoka Feo; Daulo MP, Ekime Gorosahu; and the host Lufa MP and Minister for Environment Conservation and Climate Change, Hon. Simo Kilepa.
Thousands of individuals, including who had walked in for two to three days from the farthest corners of Lufa, bordering Chimbu, Gulf, and Southern Highlands, gathered to witness this significant occasion, with many moved to tears as the Prime Minister cradled the child in his arms and received the plan.
Assuring the people of Lufa, Prime Minister Marape pledged his government’s commitment to address the challenges faced by the region, particularly in regard to road connectivity. This includes the construction of a road from Lufa Station to Unavi, reaching remote Karamui in Chimbu, as well as the rehabilitation of the deteriorating road connecting Lufa Station to the main Highlands Highway.
To kickstart the plan’s implementation, Prime Minister Marape allocated K5 million to the Lufa District Development Authority, while Minister Duma presented K2 million for the Lufa rural electrification programme.
Marape told the jubilant crowd, “Your government will take the responsibility of building the road from Lufa to Karamui, relieving the burden from the district and provincial governments, as part of our ‘Connect PNG’ programme.”
He added, “This road will serve as an alternate route on the southern side of our country, connecting Lufa to Karamui in Chimbu, Kambia in Jiwaka, and Pangia in Southern Highlands.”
He continued, “We will commence work as soon as the Works and Highways Department provides accurate cost estimates. While there is no allocation in this year’s budget, it will undoubtedly be included in next year’s budget, along with other key roads such as Marawaka to Menyamya in Morobe, Okapa to Kimi, Henganofi to Ramu in Madang, Upper Asaro to Gembogl in Chimbu, and, of course, Lufa Station to Unavi.”
Expressing his gratitude to the people of Lufa for their resilience in the face of the road accessibility challenges, the Prime Minister affirmed, “The onus of building this road rests upon us as the government. Your responsibility is to safeguard the area, maintain law and order, prioritise education and the church, and enhance coffee cultivation.”
The Prime Minister also officiated at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Lufa District office complex and staff houses.