POST COURIER – The Papua New Guinea Defence Force has secured a K1.9 billion (US$772 million) loan from overseas to improve its facilities.
Defence Minister and North Wahgi MP Fabian Pok announced the National Executive Council (NEC) had approved the loan and once the loan agreement was signed the department would secure the loan from Melbourne, Australia, to purchase new high powered weapons, boats, uniforms and other equipment for soldiers.
He said an amount of K100 million (US$40.6 million) was budgeted for major maintenance to be carried out for the Defence Force.
Pok said other countries are improving their defence forces and Papua New Guinea needed to do the same.
He said that the national Government had made a decision to set aside K250 million (US$101 million) to relocate the Engineering Batallion from Igam Barracks outside Lae City in the Morobe Province to Kerowil in the Jiwaka Province.
Pok said five new houses would also be built at Kerowil.
He said once the houses are completed, Kerowil would officially be commissioned as a new army barracks.
He said another K8 million would be providedd to build a new airstrip.
Pok commended Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and his government for making these improvements possible.
Military adviser Major Joe Dokup said the Defence Force was moving under Pok’s leadership. He said 1000 troops would be stationed in Jiwaka after the relocation of the Engineering Battalion from Igam Barracks.
Major Dokup said the project was an impact project.
Meanwhile, the Australian Government is funding major upgrades at the Lombrum Naval Base under the defence cooperation arrangement with PNG.
The Australian High Commission in their update on the Regional Processing Centre on Manus – economic aid update as of July 31, stated that under the defence cooperation program, the Australian Defence Force Exercise Halivim Poroman has refurbished married quarters at the Lombrum Naval Base.
The project, valued at more than K 2.5 million (US$1.1 million), used contractors, supplies and equipment from PNG for the work which was completed in December 2013.
It stated that the DCP will refurbish the Lombrum Navy Base medical facility in early 2015 valued at approximately K1.5 million (US$609,000) with design and planning to commence in September 2014.
The Australian Government is building 42 new married quarters on Lombrum Navy Base in the area known as Upper Paradise.
These new married quarters will be for PNG Defence Force (PNGDF) sailors and their families and construction is programed to commence in the second half of 2014.
The Australian Government is funding upgrades to the Lombrum Naval Base including repair and grading of roads, repair of the water supply, repair of power, upgrade to sewerage systems, new warehousing and erection of fencing.
The update stated that the renovation of existing buildings at the Lombrum Naval Base and the building of new structures in support of the regional processing centre will provide the PNGDF with infrastructure that will benefit the base and the defence force over the long-term.
– Post Courier