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TI PNGSTAFF REPORTER | Transparency International PNG

This story is from ‘Real Lives, Real Stories’, a series written by Transparency International staff from national chapters in the Asia Pacific region. The stories have a common message: change is possible when citizens get involved, even when the odds seem stacked against them. This story is from Papua New Guinea, where Transparency International PNG works to help empower local communities to demand accountability and ensure transparency from their government

PORT MORESBY - Madang is a scenic town on the north coast of Papua New Guinea. Surrounded by jungle-covered mountains and active volcanoes, it is a popular tourist destination and home to the PNG’s only nickel cobalt mine.

Despite the economic advantages in Madang’s Rai Coast District, the only road connecting it to the rest of the country is a rough dirt track, and there are no bridges to traverse two fast-flowing rivers that cross the track.

People endanger themselves by crossing on foot, with loads of produce carried in coconut-woven baskets on their backs. Income levels are very low in the Rai Coast District, and education is a luxury, while health is rarely taken seriously — even in a place that is plagued by tropical malaria.

When construction on a major bridge across one of the rivers suddenly stopped, Rai Coast resident Justin Balop knew something was not right. The government had hired a foreign-owned company to build the bridge and the project was now clearly behind schedule.

Justin knew the bridge was important to his community and he knew that he had to do something.

Justin formed a village drama troupe to act out plays about corruption. The plays helped people understand what corruption is and generated discussions about community issues.

The people were engaged: they wanted to take action, but they needed more information.

It was at this point that Justin approached Transparency International PNG to facilitate a community information workshop on fighting corruption and budget tracking.

As a result of the workshop, Justin mobilised his community: a protest march took place and a petition was delivered to their provincial government demanding an explanation for the incomplete bridge.

The community also requested improved services for their district. The bridge construction has since restarted.

The story of the mobilisation of Justin’s community quickly spread throughout Madang Province and more communities began organising themselves, requesting assistance from Justin to help them tackle issues of corruption in their communities.

 “I always thought there was nothing left for me to do as a citizen after voting for a leader during an election,” said Justin.

“Transparency International PNG helped me to understand that citizens have a higher calling to ensuring accountability and transparency by demanding it from their leaders.”

TI PNG continues its work to build a coalition of anti-corruption communities that are committed to ensuring transparency by empowering citizens to demand quality public services from their government and local authorities.

As a result of the workshop, Justin mobilised his community: a protest march took place and a petition was delivered to their provincial government demanding an explanation for the incomplete bridge.

Comments

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Gabriel Ramoi

Well done. It is always good to hear positive stories coming out of PNG.

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