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10 February 2013


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What the government is doing vividly reflects our traditional way of doing things in society. We like to tear down and build and not maintain in order save time and money.

The members of the parliament should break this habit.
PNG likes spending money on new things rather than maintaining or upgrading the old infrastructure.

What difference will the new infrastructure make? If perfection and attraction or beautification is all you want, you can archieve it by maintaining and reconstructing old ones.

The government should look for ways of saving rather than spending.

Excellent comments, David!

Agree with the comments and assessments so far.

This is one area where PNG has failed miserably in the past and continues to do so today.

The government and bureaucrats who frame our national budget each year must realise that a once off spending in the development budget permanently increases future recurrent budget.

Repairs and maintenance is a recurring cost by nature and unless there are sufficient future revenues to sustain its recurrence, neglect and deterioration is bound to follow.

If I may take a leaf out of the bean counters' books, that is why we expense its depreciation immediately after booking the inclusion of a new asset.

The reason why this is done (i.e depreciating the asset) is so that the owners of the asset can easily visualise the wear and tear on the asset in the numbers they see and make appropriate financial provisions for its timely maintenance.

Pity they don't show TV shows like the English production "Restoration House" in PNG.

The PNG people would come to realize how you can restore old houses.

Spot on Phil.

Traditional society in Papua New Guinea was a ‘throwaway’ society.

If a house started to fall down or a canoe started to leak the natural thing to do was build a new one. This attitude is reflected today in peoples’ attitudes to infrastructure.

Rather than maintain what is already there people are more inclined to simply spend money on a new one.

Europeans find this very frustrating. They might build a school or an aid post in a community only to come back in a few years’ time to find that it is falling down and that machinery like pumps and generators have ceased to operate.

In the workplace this is also common with maintenance a low priority. It takes acculturation to fix this problem, which takes time.

This attitude is why infrastructure from before independence has all fallen into disuse.

Hunters and gatherers in the Australian deserts are similar but to a much greater degree. A desert hunter's total possession might have consisted of a couple of spears and a woomera.

Until a few years ago abandoned near-new Toyota Landcruisers with seized motors were commonplace around outstations and homelands.

Europeans have a much more personal attachment to their 'stuff', especially prestige stuff like houses and cars and tend to look after them.

When they look at them they see function but they also see dollars and cents.

Just ask Jared Diamond.

No doubt about it. Personal intervention leading to conflict is not welcome.

Politicians are unable to direct their senior public servants; and these are not in control of those of their staff who are not producing work of benefit to the aims of the Departments.

It is more acceptable to rebuild infrastructure than to maintain it.

The only manual work maintaining the roads appear to be by private groups extorting rewards from the general travellers; it is widely felt that the private contractors are overpaid for what work they do; part of this overpayment is suspected to be for kickbacks.

It must be cheaper for the PWD to be re-energized, why not make more use of the Defence Engineers.

Some politicians find it easier to start a new party than to have conflict to improve the old one.

If there is a conflict within a church, a new church offshoot will miraculously appear.

There appears to be an aversion by progressive elements to engage in conflict with aggressive self serving leaders in our society.

We all have our own way to cope with these inefficiencies.

I believe that there will be little improvement until we get further away from what worked for the people over thousands of years.

What worked for disparate groups generally at war with one or another of their neighbours is not suited to an aspiring modern state.

Maybe our overseas partners should deal with us as we are. Not some idealized picture that they may have of us; something that they would like us to be.

We have to develop our own destiny; they have only to develop a viable relationship with us as we are.

PNG people, working in both the government and private sectors, must realise that they have to put aside a lot of money each year to cover the depreciation of their assets.

The hot humid tropical weather, all year round, and the white ants and other termites all work to rot or rust away any infrastructure and vehicle.

By now AusAID should have many experts on how to handle the "wear and tear" on PNG infrastructure. The men in the old Public Works Department knew a lot.

Back in the 1960s I remember visiting Colombo in Ceylon and noticing the mould everywhere. There are plenty of other countries that have had to learn how to handle these problems.

When I was in PNG in the 1970-80s I sadly watched the lovely old wooden houses, built for the various government departments, sadly rotting away due to neglect.

Today the story of Keravat National High School is a good example. It was allowed to rot away. The good men of the Public Works evidently lost the plot or it all ran away from them.

Anyway, now Keravat NHS has been rebuilt, thanks to AusAID. I hope that the Education Department and the new Headmaster will put in place some good policies to maintain these new buildings and the lovely new water-tanks.

Remember to call the Flick man! Or is he no longer available? And rust proof everything!

Maintenance has to be a key word.

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