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Project to reduce neonatal mortality in PNG

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Thousands of babies die every year from preventable diseases in Papua New Guinea, however one of the common killers is hypothermia which can be easily prevented by simple interventions that can keep the baby warm.

Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature of the new born baby falls below 36.5 degrees compared to the normal body temperature which is 36.5 to 37.5 degrees.

From reports, it has been revealed that 6000 new born babies in PNG die every year and most of these deaths are caused by Hypothermia.

To address the high number of Neonatal Mortality, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) partnering with the Eastern Highlands Health Authority and an NGO group Touching the Untouchable piloted a Provincial model of Comprehensive Newborn Care Initiative(CNCI) in the Henganofi District of Eastern Highlands Province in 2016.

The Model is supported with the introduction of the Hypothermia Alerting Device or locally known as the Baby Kol Kilok which is a device that can detect Hypothermia by giving off signal when the baby’s temperature is dropping below 36.5 degrees.
The Hypothermia device is a bracelet that is put around the baby’s writs to monitor the baby’s temperature for Hypothermia.

Over 90 Hypothermia Bracelets have been distributed to new born babies in the Henganofi District by Village Health Volunteers trained under the Early Newborn Care Programme which has been successfully implemented in the district through the support by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

The 130 Village Health Volunteers visit new-borns in remote areas to assess and treat minor illness or they can make referrals to the District Health Center if the infant is very sick.

They also monitor the Hypothermia Bracelet within the first 28 days of the baby and one of the most important interventions taught to mothers by this Health Volunteers is the Kangaroo Mother Care or skin to skin contact between mother and child.
Health Specialist from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Dr Ghanashyam Sethy said the intervention will reduce the Neonatal Mortality by 41%.

“This means that we can save around 2800 babies from the 6000 new-borns that die every year in the country”

He said the introduction of the Hypothermia device will help trigger behavioral changes in mothers when doing the Kangaroo Mother Care often and even breast feeding.

“The Baby Kol Kilok will signal the mother when to do the Kangaroo Mother Care which can also lead to the baby to bond with the mother”

Dr Sethy also pointed out that most parents and service providers do know and can monitor Hyperthermia which is fever but they could not monitor Hypothermia before the introduction of the Hypothermia Device.

Meanwhile Cici Ronald a mother to a four days old infant from Saviza village in Henganofi was very impressed with the Hypothermia bracelet.

She said it is easier to monitor her baby in the cold climate with this device and couple of times she was signalled by the device that her baby was getting cold.

“When the bracelet gives off blue light, I know my baby is fine but when the orange light comes on, I know he is cold so I quickly wrap him in some warm clothes or do the skin to skin contact to keep him warm”

The Henganofi District Development Authority has also witnessed how these Health Programmes are changing the lifestyles of the villagers in terms of Health and Hygiene and they have committed to support the programme.

The Henganofi Development Authority has committed K200, 000 to fund this programme in the next 5 years.

Photo: Cici Ronald and her 4 days old baby :PNGFM/PNG Today

Madang investigations pending response from Governor Yama

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Investigations into the Madang conflict resulting in the deaths of four youths will not proceed yet.
Provincial Police Commander Chief Inspector Ben Neneo said the investigations have not commenced awaiting response from Governor Peter Yama who requested to see a petition filed by locals before investigations can commence.
PPC Neneo said the petition by locals is in regards to the death of the four youths shot at by police during the unrest and the allegations of harassment by settlers.
Neneo also said that allegations of the motive surrounding the death of the Bau Primary School teacher must be reported to police.
He said no suspects have been identified yet but people with such information need to come forward and report to police.
Meantime, ACP Northern Command Peter Guinis has called on local leaders for a total co-operation when investigation commences.PNGFM

Is PNG ready for artificial intelligence?

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Commentary by Hon. Powes Parkop, Governor of National Capital District

Yesterday we ended our official trip to the City of Shenzhen. We were guest of the Deputy Mayor of Shenzhen Mr Ai Xuefeng and the China Steel Construction Engineering (CSCE) Ltd. This is the company that the Shenzhen Municipal Government engaged to built our new college, The Butuka Shenzhen Friendship College.

This college symbolizes the Sister city relationship between our two cities. I signed an MOU in 2016 to make Shenzen our sister city. This college will be the first in PNG in that we will have a three in one campus comprising of elementary, primary and secondary school. It will also have indoor and outdoor sporting complex and cafeteria.

We ended the official trip to Shenzhen with a visit to the massive assembly and fabrication plant owned the CSCE in the City of Huizhou which is about an hours drive from Shenzhen.

What impressed me about the visit wasn’t just the massive size of the assembly and fabrication plant but significantly more was the almost lack of workers in this massive plant. In the entire gigantic building comprising of various stages of formulating steel to customer design, we hardly saw any human work force.

In a country of almost 2 billion people, many I believe would love to work in this innovative plant. The absence of workers therefore was a big surprise to me and all of our delegates.

Instead of using human workforce to complete the stages of assembling and fabricating, all of the work was being done by robots, including cutting and welding. It was an astonishing cutting edge technology at its best but it also spoke volumes for the future.

This technological advancement will not just have an impact on production line and quality of products and services, it will completely change the nature of the economy and how we humans relate to the economy in terms of employment and our overall lifestyle.

This is not just a feature or an ad hoc decision by the assembly plant. It was a well thought out plan and vision of this giant company which started in 1985 as part of the State owned mother company called China State Construction Engineering Company.

Their future goal is to develop steel to a level and capacity which can enable them to be part of inter planetary travel and settlement, building space cities as depicted in the Star Wars movies, building floating cities in the ocean of the world and also building undersea cities.

I was totally wowed by this vision when we visited their steel museum on the first day of our official trip. The museum tells a very powerful story of human progress since the discovery of steel. It takes you through the history of how steel was developed, enhanced and used to build industries generally but particularly to build infrastructures and monuments that litters all over the world today including the Eiffel Tower in Paris and other land marks like the Golden Gate Bridge in Los Angeles.

At the end of the tour we were ushered into a 3D cinema where we were given their futuristic vision of how steel will take human civilization and technological advancement to another level. The sky is no longer the limit. It seems, a vision we only see in movies can be a reality soon.

While that might seem like something we all dream of, I can’t begin to imagine what would it mean for us in terms of economic development and lifestyle into the future? Because it is already happening. It’s here now.

We have to start waking up to a reality that employment and the economy as we know now it, would not be the same as it is today. Human doctors, engineers, pilots, factory workers especially in steel fabrication, nurses etc might be a thing of the past. Instead we will have these professions filled by artificial intelligence; robots which are already happening in China as I write this.

Humans in the near future will have a lot of time to spare on their hands because almost all manual work might be out-sourced to robots and even professional jobs. Lifestyle and service industry, arts, music, sports and entertainment etc will be the mainstay of human activities in the coming future.

The physical, mental and the manual aspect of human activity would be and can be outsourced by artificial intelligence.

Where does that leave us humans? We may have to spend more time on holistic and lifestyle industry which would be hard to outsource to artificial intelligence robots.

How we are employed or utilize our time and sustain ourselves will be a big challenge in this robotic future. This is a scenario that is devoid of the reality in PNG but it will happen sooner than later. It’s already making a presence in the most populated country in the world as our visit showed.

This is a company that has K2 trillion worth of contract all over the world and is ranked 24 out of 500 top companies in the world. It is a giant global company that is investing in and already utilizing artificial intelligence on a massive scale. It’s vision is to perfect, improve and out source more so they can be competitive and relevant into the future.

That’s means we in PNG and the world generally must start to wake up from our comfort zone and ignorance!

It has already started  inPNG. Don’t be complacent. We need to dive into the future with a positive outlook and dare to dream the impossible. I ask you to see the world in new perspectives and courageous to be different and futuristic!

Let your voice be heard online: send your commentaries to us: Email: pngfacts(at)gmail(dot)com

Vanuatu Finance minister expelled from party

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Vanuatu Minister of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) and Nagriamel’s Member of Parliament for Santo, Gaetan Pikioune, has been expelled from the party by the Nagriamel Upper Council of Chiefs (NUCC) of the Nagriamel Movement (NM).

The Chairman of the NUCC, James Tangis, informed Minister Pikioune of the decision in a letter dated April 9, 2018.

In the letter, Chief Tangis wrote that following the Minister’s refusal to adhere to the direction of the NUCC requesting him to resign as a MP of the NM, a meeting of the chiefs of the NUCC was held and the NUCC was now formally expelling him from the NM as of April 9.

The reason given for the expulsion was that he was continuously working in contravention to the procedures of the Movement.

Prior to this decision, on February 20, the President of the National Executive of the National Executive (NE) of the Nagriamel Political Commission (NPC), John Lum, wrote to the Chief Tangis, Chairman of the NUCC setting out a total of 14 complaints against the Minister of Finance and Economic Management.

Lum requested the NUCC to consider the charges by the NE against Pikioune and to “take strong disciplinary action against MP Gaetan Pikioune.”

Some of the allegations of misconduct against MP Pikioune were that he was working for his personal own political gain and not for the growth and development of the Nagriamel Movement, including providing ‘false statistics’ which allowed him to contest the last general election and the previous election to that.

This, the President of the NE claimed enabled the MP to field his own candidates in the Sanma Provincial Election, which resulted in Nagriamel not winning any councilor in the new council.

Lum claimed that following the election, Pikoune accepted the portfolio of Finance and Economic Management without any consultation with the National Executive.

Another is the Minister decided to accept the proposal to introduce income tax in Vanuatu without consultation with the NE, a policy which contravened the principles of the NM.

The NE also charged Pikoune with nepotism, accusing him of appointing people related to him and without consultations with the NM to the Ministry of FEM and other government statutory bodies.

Another charge is that Pikoune, a shareholder of Air Vanuatu, allowed the sacking of his ‘boss’, the President of the NE, John Lum, who was Chairman of the Board of Directors of the national airline of Vanuatu.

Finally, that MP Pikioune allowed deductions from the salaries of those people he appointed political appointees in ministries and statutory authorities without the approval of the NE and that he had no power to authorise the deductions.

The letter from the President of the NE, Lum claims that these continuous malpractice by MP Pikioune did not help the growth and development of the Movement and recommended to the NUCC that it should discipline Mr. Pikioune to make an example of him for any politician of the Movement in the future and, to rebuild confidence and trust for future coalition arrangements with government.

On February 28, 2018 the chairman of the NUCC, Chief James Tangis, wrote to Pikioune requesting him to submit a detailed financial report to the NUCC and giving full details on the party dues being deducted from political appointees under the Ministry and statutory bodies, such as name and account number, signatories to the account, details of expenditures and receipts, name of bank, bank statement since 2016-2018, and percentage of deduction of salaries of political appointees.

Chief Tangis gave the Minister 10 days from the date of the letter to respond.

On the same date, chief Tangis wrote to minister Pikioune, attaching a copy of the letter of 14 complaints from NE President, John Lum. In the letter he directed the MP to answer to the complaints in writing and gave him 10 days from the date of his letter for him to provide his response.

Chief Tangis informed the minister that if he failed to respond within the 10 days given, he should take the honorable decision of resigning as a MP of the NM.

On April 9, 2018 Chief Tangis wrote again to the Minister, this time to inform him that because he did not resign as directed by the NUCC he was now being expelled by the NUCC from the Movement effective from that date.

When contacted by Daily Post, Minister Pikioune said he had not yet received the expulsion letter from the Chairman of the NUCC.

But he added that the NM has a constitution which required that any disciplinary issues against a member must be heard by a Disciplinary Committee and given a chance to respond to any allegations.

He said so far, he has not received any summon to appear before any disciplinary committee hearing. Additionally, he said that under the constitution of the Movement, when two of them were elected under Nagriamel’s ticket – MP Jacob Mata, of Ambae and himself, they automatically become members of the National Executive of the Movement.

He mentioned he has not received any summon to attend any NE meetings.

Minister Pikioune added that he considered any expulsion of himself unconstitutional and he preferred the Congress of the Movement to decide on his case.

The next Congress is set for August this year at Port Vato, West Ambrym.

SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS

Queen tips Prince Charles to follow her as Commonwealth head

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Queen Elizabeth II opened a summit of the 53-nation Commonwealth on Thursday and backed her son Prince Charles to be the next leader of the association of Britain and its former colonies.

In a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, the queen said she hoped Charles would “carry on the important work” of leading the Commonwealth, a loose alliance of countries large and small that has struggled to carve out a firm place on the world stage.

For decades, the queen has been the driving force behind the Commonwealth but she has no designated successor as chief. Some have suggested that Charles should not take over the helm of the group, which takes in 2.4 billion people on five continents.

“It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations and will decide that one day the Prince of Wales should carry on the important work started by my father in 1949,” the Queen said.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who hosted the last Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2015, signaled that leaders were likely to confirm Charles as successor to his mother, who turns 92 on Saturday.

Muscat said he was sure that Charles, a long-time advocate for environmental issues, “will provide solid and passionate leadership for our Commonwealth” when called upon to do so.

Commonwealth leaders are to discuss who will succeed the queen when they meet Friday at Windsor Castle, west of London.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman, James Slack, said Britain supported Charles becoming leader of the group, but added that “succession is a matter for the Commonwealth as a whole to determine.”

The survival of the Commonwealth owes much to the commitment of the queen, who has visited almost every member country — often multiple times — over her 66-year-reign.

May praised the monarch for being “the Commonwealth's most steadfast and fervent champion.”

Leaders from countries ranging from vast India to tiny Tuvalu will spend two days meeting in London and at Windsor Castle. Their agenda includes protecting the world's oceans and helping small states boost their cybersecurity.

Britain also hopes to use the meeting as a launch pad for stronger trade ties with Commonwealth countries after the U.K. leaves the European Union next year.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said this week that Brexit could revitalize the Commonwealth and “usher in a new era, harnessing the movement of expertise, talent, goods and capital between our nations in a way that we have not done for a generation or more.” 

Others are skeptical that increased Commonwealth trade can make up for reduced access to Britain's biggest market, the EU. In 2017, 44 percent of British exports went to the EU and just 9 percent to Commonwealth countries.

Still, some say the Commonwealth could present a platform for British diplomatic and cultural clout after it leaves the EU.

Michael Lake, director of the Royal Commonwealth Society charity, said the Commonwealth could be a “useful and productive stepping stone for the development of a new soft-power agenda.”

But Britain's relationship with the Commonwealth has been clouded by diplomatic missteps and the legacy of empire. May had to apologise this week after it emerged that some people who came to the U.K. from the Caribbean decades ago had been refused medical care in Britain or threatened with deportation because they could not produce paperwork to show their rights to residence.

Gay-rights activists are also protesting the summit, urging the repeal of laws against homosexuality that are in effect in more than 30 Commonwealth countries — in many cases, introduced under British rule.

May says Britain deeply regrets its role in passing the anti-gay laws.

“I am all too aware that these laws were often put in place by my own country,” she said. “They were wrong then, and they are wrong now.”

The Commonwealth is officially committed to democracy and human rights, but its rights record is mixed. Many look with pride on the organization's role in the 1970s and '80s in trying to end apartheid in South Africa.

But many Commonwealth nations have been plagued by corruption or destabilised by coups. Zimbabwe's former president, Robert Mugabe, pulled his country out of the group in 2003 after it was suspended for widespread human rights abuses. Gambia quit in 2013, calling the Commonwealth a “neocolonial institution.” It rejoined earlier this year.

Still, the Commonwealth provides support for democracy and corruption-fighting, and gives its smaller members a chance to be heard as part of an international network. Attempts to expand the club beyond former British colonies have had modest success, with Mozambique and Rwanda joining in recent years.

Philip Murphy, who heads the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London, said the Commonwealth was held together by "a kind of inertia, the fact that it's probably more trouble to wind it up than to keep going."

But he said he wouldn't write it off just yet.

“It's sort of like the Holy Roman Empire — international organisations can survive long beyond their natural expiry date,” Murphy said.

SOURCE: AP/PACNEWS

PNG PM O'Neill begins CHOGM Meeting with Courtesy call to the Duke of York

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Papua New Guinea Prime Minister,  Peter O’Neill  has begun his range of high level meetings at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) with a courtesy call to HRH Prince Andrew KG, GCVO, CD, ADC, The Duke of York.

During the meeting at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday, the Prime Minister and the Duke of York discussed issues of relevance for Papua New Guinea and the Commonwealth.
“Prince Andrew is clearly concerned by the recent Highlands earthquake and expressed his sympathies following the disaster,” the Prime Minister said from London.

“In almost all of our CHOGM-related meetings today, for myself, the Foreign Minister, and senior officials, there was clear concern at the loss of life in the earthquake.

“We certainly thank Prince Andrew and our Commonwealth counterparts for their concern, and the support that has been received from partner countries for relief operations.

“There are a number of Commonwealth countries that experience earthquakes and other natural disasters, and it is important to share information to enhance planning and future responses.

“The recent disaster was a shock to our country and the Commonwealth, as a large earthquake has not been experienced in the Highlands for one hundred years.”

The Prime Minister said his discussion with the Duke of York was wide-ranging and covered a range of issues relevant to development and regional engagement.

“Prince Andrew is certainly familiar with Papua New Guinea, having visited our country as recently as the Pacific Games in 2015.

"One of the important messages that we are carrying to our Commonwealth partners and business representatives is that Papua New Guinea is a country that is changing.
"We are transforming our nation from traditional communities to a modernising economy in the space of a generation.

"This brings with it challenges, but is also changing lives, particularly over the past seven years that our Government has been in office.

"Particularly in the area of healthcare and education, Prince Andrew is familiar with development in other Commonwealth countries so his views and observations are welcome.

"The policies that we are delivering in education and healthcare is delivering clear benefits to our people and empowering our young generation.

"Around the Commonwealth, a range of development models and policies have been implement with varying results.

“Papua New Guinea is on the right path.

“We are diversifying or economic base, particularly in key areas of agriculture and developing future export markets in Asia, and are implementing a long term growth strategy for the tourism sector.”
Photo supplied: PM media Unit

New undersea cable initiative to improve internet speed and cost in PNG

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The multi-million undersea cable that Australia will fund, construct and hand-over to Papua New Guinea will transform information technology communications, according to the Minister for for Communications, Information Technology and Energy Sam Basil.

“It will help move Papua New Guinea closer to faster, more reliable and affordable IT telecommunication services.”

“The new Coral Sea cable will bring benefits in greater speeds and bandwidth (10 terabits per second on each fibre compared to 1000 gigabits per second now). It will be 200 times faster than the existing cables and definitely reduce the cost of internet to the consumer.”.

“The pricing structure is yet to be determined which will also depend on the wholesale costings by Dataco. But it will greatly reduce the overall cost of internet in the country and make us competitive in internet costs with other countries.”

Minister Basil has thrown his ministerial support including line Government agencies – Department of Information and Communications (DCI), National Information Communications Technology Authority (NICTA), and the National Broadcasting Corporation(NBC) to the underseas cable project.

“I am also calling on all line agencies which are not directly under my ministry – and all National Government stakeholders - to provide every support and assistance to this project which will ensure reliability, affordability and speed in IT communications in the country,” the ICT Minister said.

Minister Basil wants to see an all-of-Government coordinated approach on this vital ICT infrastructure led by line agencies – DCI, NICTA, DataCo, Telikom PNG and backed by stakeholder Departments – Treasury, National Planning, Finance and APEC ICT.

Basil said this in a statement issued after a Meeting with officials from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade led by Deputy Secretary Ms Penny Williams and Australian High Commission in Port Moresby led by Minister-Counselor Mr Benedict David on Monday. Officials from the DFAT-engaged projector developer – Vocus – were also present in NICTA Office conference room.

Mr Basil was supported by PNG ICT officials led by acting Secretary of Department of Information and Communications, Mr Paulias Korni and National Information Communications Technology Authority Chief Executive, Mr Charles Punana.

“The building of the undersea cable will improve telecommunications connectivity resulting in improved internet access which will in turn enhance business engagement and pertinent developments on education and health services.”

“There are still issues of scoping and costing which depends on where the cable lands onshore in Australia (Sydney, Townsville or Sunshine Coast) and cable ownerships and financing. All these can be worked out in due course and captured in subsequent technical and bidding legal problems.”

“But now that a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by PNG Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato and his Australian counterpart Ms Julie Bishop recently in Brisbane, which is in line with the Prime Ministerial pact between Prime Minister O’Neill and Prime Minister Turnbull, it is time to move forward on this vital infrastructure,” Mr Basil said.

He was pleased that the Australians had taken the time to brief his ministry and line agencies on the submarine cable. Both parties also discussed cybersecurity challenges in PNG especially in the lead up to APEC Leaders Summit in November – but also on-going assistance required in the light of cybercrime and cyber terrorism.  Read more on PNG Technology Website: PNG eHow

Cancer awareness at Tatana Primary School

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The Papua New Guinea Cancer Foundation (PNGCF) carried out a cancer awareness program today in Tatana village, Port Moresby.
PNGCF, in partnership with ExxonMobil (PNG) Ltd, conducted its second Healthy Teens School Program (HTSP) for 2018 to the upper primary school students – grade 6, 7 and 8 of Tatana Primary School.
PNGCF Health Educator, Jacob Oburi, spoke to the students about what cancer was and how to reduce the risk of acquiring the illness.
He stated that the HTSP was basically about getting the message across to teens in school, especially upper primary and lower secondary school students as they are more susceptible to these habits.
“Through this program, we encourage our students not to chew betel-nut, smoke cigarettes, or take alcohol,” said Mr Oburi.
“We also encourage them to eat healthy. Sometimes we do not want to eat what our mothers cook; we want to eat what we want to eat, but it is important to make healthy choices.”
PNGCF Programs Coordinator Priscillar Napoleon stressed on the importance of taking the message home to family and friends to educate them as well about protecting their future from cancer.
Also present at the event, was 2018 Commonwealth Games Weightlifter Silver Medallist Dika Toua, and her sister Thelma who shared their sporting experiences and how important it was to live a healthy and active lifestyle.
The HTSP will continue to conduct cancer awareness programs in Boera, Baruni, Hanuabada and Porebada villages throughout the year.

Picture: students of Tatana Primary School with Commonwealth Games Silver Medalist, Dika Toua. PNGFM

Enquiry to be set over beheading and shooting of youths in Madang

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An enquiry will be set with a coroner’s quest to determine the cause of actions by police into the death of youths in Madang in a clash and the beheading of a teacher by criminals that lead to the clash.
ACP Northern Command Peter Guinis said, in the fall of events during the clash, the police reacted in self-defence when patrol bombs were thrown at them resulting in a police officer critically injured and three youths shot at by police.
“We will not defend the police if the police were wrong to shoot but with the coroner’s inquiry set they are ready to answer questions that will be raised” said ACP Guinis.
ACP Guinis said preliminary investigations are underway for the deaths that occurred during the unrest.
Meanwhile, Mr Guinis said there are a lot of issues involved in the beheading of the teacher but did not reveal which ones exactly.
He said only investigations will reveal and establish what actually happened.
Guinis has also called for a total cooperation from local leaders in Madang to identify the suspects involved in the beheading of the teacher.
“The head has been returned to the relatives and preliminary investigations have commenced and we will need cooperation from local level government leaders,” said Mr Guinis.
He added that in these way matters can be sorted out by identifying people involved in the beheading and what actually transpired into the beheading and clash..

Police in Madang:   PNGFM/PNG Today

PNG – A Dumping Ground for Inferior Housing

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PNG is unfortunately a dumping ground for all kinds of inferior products such as electronic goods, clothing, food, etc.  Unfortunately for people wanting to purchase their own home, whether it’s to live in or for investment purposes, we’ve also become a bit of a dumping ground for inferior houses and building products.
Co-Founder and Director of PNG construction company Rhodes (PNG) Limited, Andrew Avenell, believes that his  industry should be doing everything it can to mitigate the building and selling of sub-standard homes.  He says that one way to prevent more of these types of houses coming on to the market is to reduce the demand for them through educating the house-buying public.  “PNG currently has a relatively unsophisticated house-buying market with many buyers being the first generation in their family to take out a bank loan to purchase a modern, or western-style, house.  People need to be aware that sub-standard homes are on the market and they also need to know how to avoid them. “
The advice Rhodes is giving people is to do their homework, shop around, and ask lots of questions.  People have the right to insist on quality and most importantly, ask for evidence of quality.  For example, customers can ask builders and building product suppliers to show them mill certificates to prove that the steel they’re using is high quality galvanised steel as opposed to low carbon and therefore low quality steel.  Likewise, they can demand evidence of Australian Standard (or equivalent) building products and fit out materials.  If the builder can’t or won’t produce the evidence then it’s a reasonable indicator that something is amiss and that the quality of the building is potentially suspect.
Other advice Rhodes is giving house buyers is that their home will last longer if they frame it with steel rather than wood.  There is obvious self-interest in this advice as Rhodes builds with steel.  However, it’s a fact that good quality steel framed homes have a design life of 50+ years whereas good quality termite treatments are typically only guaranteed for a maximum of 25 years.  Avenell points out that most people don’t stop to think of the difference between termite ‘resistant’ and termite  ‘proof’.  Steel is termite proof but timber is not.
A significant consideration when it comes to buying a house is obviously affordability.  Advances in technology have resulted in more affordable building materials and building techniques such as prefabricated builds and therefore lower priced homes.  However, there are factors to consider other than just what’s on the price tag.  It’s not only the initial deposit plus regular mortgage payments that people need to be able to afford but also insurance, maintenance, electricity, and water.  Families are wise to choose a home that minimises these ongoing costs.  For example, a home built from quality materials by a reputable builder will have fewer maintenance requirements and potentially lower insurance premiums than a lesser quality home.  Installing solar panels, implementing passive cooling design elements, and water recycling will further decrease the costs of home ownership.  These are also important in terms of sustainability and minimising the construction industry’s environmental footprint.
Last year’s Real Estate Show provided PNG’s house-buying market with all sorts of valuable information and helped educate potential buyers.  Rhodes believes that construction companies also need to play a role in educating home buyers with Avenell saying “the more we do this, the more difficult it will be for unethical companies to dump inferior homes on the market and take advantage of PNG families.”

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