PLANS the for Hela Province that will move the province away from the wrongs of the past, and set the people of Hela on a strong development path are underway, according to PNG’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

In a statement, Mr O’Neill said the government aims to address development issues and outline a plan to complete outstanding work in the province, such as road works and upgrades to the airport.

“Our Government commits to continue to this development program for Hela, and attend to key outstanding work that has not been attended to since 1975 if at all.”

“We are firmly committed to upgrading and sealing the highway from Mt Hagen to Tari, and onto Komo and Koroba Kopiago.”

“Other key infrastructure includes the Gulf to Southern Highlands Province and Hela Highway, as well as the Tari to Porgera Highway,” he added.

Mr O’Neill said the Government is committed to upgrading the Komo airport into a public international airport.

“Komo airport currently has the longest runway in the country with the latest flight control facilities, we are proposing opening the airport for public use and discussions are ongoing between the NAC and PNG LNG.”

“The people of the province are experiencing unprecedented expenditure on roads, education, police and healthcare,” Mr O’Neill added.

Finance Minister and Member for Tari-Pori Open James Marape further highlighted development that is underway to improve Internet connectivity for the people of Hela Province, and the benefits this will deliver to local people.

“Working with the national Government and private sector partners, we are laying fibre optic cable for high speed internet,” Mr Marape said.

“This will link through Tari and along the main highway back to Mendi and into Mt Hagen. The fibre optic internet connection will be undertaken simultaneously when the highway and power lines are being constructed.”

Mr Marape said the health and social wellbeing benefits of having high speed access to the internet are important and through village internet connectivity the people in the community will be empowered to learn more about the world and to be better educated.

“With access to the Internet people can learn about medical issues and how to live a healthier life, or to treat minor illnesses, while farmers gain access to accurate weather forecasts,” Mr Marape added.

Mr O’Neill said the Government has also negotiated with partners to use PNG LNG gas to generate electricity for use in Hela.

“We are creating a permanent power grid that draws on gas-fired electricity to ensure Hela is now linked permanently to electricity.”

“Presently Tari town is also on 24 hours electricity supply through an memorandum of understanding signed with Oil Search for fuel supplied to a one megawatt generator,” Mr O’Neill said.

Mr O’Neill said the Government commits to honour all obligations to Hela under UBSA and LBSA agreements with PNG LNG.