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Old 09-12-2003, 12:32 PM
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What its like living in remote Kaintiba

by James Kila

THE LYRICS to a song by the popular band from the Gulf province Hollie Maea which goes, “Kerema, yu no save, yu yet kam na lukim” fits in quite nicely with this amazing story of an extension officer who dwells amongst the Kamea people in the remote and disadvantaged Kaintiba district of the Gulf province.

Mogia Honepe hails from Henganofi in the Eastern Highlands province but now lives, eats and mingles freely with the Kamea people for almost two years as a coffee extension officer attached with the Coffee Industry Corporation.

Honepe has been with the Kameas, as the locals are referred to traditionally for quite sometime and understands the practical situation and the extreme difficulties these people face merely trying to cope with the western lifestyle where money makes everything happen.

There are government and DAL officers at Kaintiba, however, their roles and functions lack recognition compared to this lone CIC officer. To these remote communities CIC is the most effective and highly respected organization.

Honepe moved to Kaintiba, a government station only accessible by air in April, 2002 after working in the remote parts of Central province for four years in areas such as Goilala, Koiari, Rigo and Rigo-Central.
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Old 09-12-2003, 12:32 PM
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Coffee is the only source of cash income for the Kamea people. Apart from that there is no other cash crop except for pork meat which the people sell for money. However, the single and the biggest most problem these remote Kamea people face is the inaccessibility to market their coffee.

An enormous problem these people encounter frequently is freight cost. A classic example is that the freight to transport coffee from Kaintiba to Nadzab is K1.50 per kilogram. Thus with the current price at K2, farmers make only 50-toea but many overhead cost such as labour paid to people who help carry the bags, tractor hire and others these whole amount is depleted. The farmers ends up with virtually 15-toea which is very uneconomical. Consequently many farmers have abandoned their coffee gardens and have returned to living their previous subsistence way of life.

These two sub-districts Kaintiba and Kotitanga have over the years been given very little priority by successive elected leaders.

Two airstrips serve Kaintiba, namely Kaintiba and Haubango, while for Kotintanga sub-districts, airstrips still open are Komako, Kanabea and Kamina. Unfortunately, planes have stopped landing at Bu and Yeva airstrips although these two locations are heavy coffee production areas.

Due to the CIC man-power available the base has been located at Kaintiba. Honepe is the only officer serving the two sub-districts and that is extremely a difficult task, however, he has been somewhat managing.

Honepe stated that a lot of coffee from Kaintiba are carried by the people on their shoulders and string bags to Menyamya and Tawa (Aseki) in Morobe province. These people walk under extremely difficult conditions crossing rivers and walking over rugged terrains just to sell their coffee.
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Old 09-12-2003, 12:33 PM
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“Many people say Menyamya and Aseki produce more coffee, but I tell you most of the coffee come from Kaintiba and is added to the Morobe production,” Honepe said.

“I have a good record of coffee produce transported by plane, however, I must admit I don’t have records of those coffee carried by the farmers and walking through the bush and rugged terrains to sell outside their area,” he added

“The only option for these remote coffee farmers to avoid these problem is to have a freight subsidy, which they reckon the Regional Gulf MP and Kerema MP must consider very seriously,”

Education for the Kamea children is also quite difficult to afford. For a child completing grade six to pursue secondary education, a parent has an extreme burden to fetch K950. Therefore, children’s rights to education is denied. It is not the parents who have denied their children’s rights to education but it is the government’s.

Many school children have been sent home even though many have succeeded in gaining placements to further education.
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“Other provinces can emphasize on education, health and other government services to be their priorities. But for the poor remote Kamea people these is not their priorities, the government must look at stabilizing coffee price and freight subsidy, and the other priorities can flow in line,” he said.

“When people have money they can be able to pay their children’s school fees,”

The government services there include a health center with less then 10 medical officers, a government-run school.

The Roman Catholic Church is playing a very vital role in this remote location in its health and education services, which he said is far better than what the Gulf provincial government is doing.
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Old 09-12-2003, 12:34 PM
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Gulf is a province very hard to imagine having some of the best brains and even two prime ministers who originating from there yet the interior is still being neglected.

“Any new person will find it hard to compare just the sight of the state of the health center, government establishments compared to other districts in the country” said Honepe.

The decline in the value of the Kina has caused escalating cost for trade store goods in this remote location

A packet of rice costs K6.80 (King Rice), an Ox and Palm tinned meat costs K8. A packet of noodles is K2. A biscuit packet is K2 and the list goes on. A little petrol to keep Honepe’s motor-bike in running condition costs K9 per liter.

“There are places where 75 per cent of the people are still wearing traditional costumes or dress and still live traditional lifestyle. Even though, the colonial explorers and discovered nothing has changes even after 27-years.

The people are still hoping and praying as they when they are going to get the services. They have. They have yet to see semi-trailer trucks or even a bicycle.

“Protein is very scares as wild pig is there but there is no guns to shoot them. Those who want to protein can resort to K18 a pack of Kwik-kai frozen,” said Honepe.

Mogia has a motor-bike which travel as far as 50-kilometers where the road stops. Within Kaintiba sub-district. A road which people terms as “A road without the head and without a tail” Mogia travel through bush tracks and footpath which was previously maintained by Works Department but abandoned over the years.

Only one tractor and a Toyota landcruiser owned by the Catholic mission at Bema which travel this 4-kilometer, from the Government station to the high School.

The Kerema MP and first-time politician is no new person to the Kameas as he has lived and experienced the hardships and government’s negligence faced by these remote and disadvantaged people over the years.

Certainly for the Kameas he is only means to their glimmers of hope..
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