Six villages along the Ok Tedi River will now access Tabubil safely for health, education and other services after Ok Tedi Mining Ltd (OTML) completed the construction of the Lower Ok Tedi footbridge.
The bridge, which was funded under the Ok Tedi Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme program was constructed after the old one was damaged in 2006.
The bridge was officially opened by OTML Managing Director & CEO, Musje Werror on the 23rd of September and was witnessed by community leaders from the six villages of Kumgit, Ankit, Okteditau, Nioksikwi, Derongo, and Boungkim including other community members and staff of OTML. The project began in June after it was delayed for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nioksikwi Village Councillor, Manop Deknong, said for nearly 15 years, a number of people had lost their lives trying to cross the river but can now do so safely with the new footbridge.
“Planti manmeri i bin lus. Ai wara bilong mi pundaun olgeta taim. Mi askim wanem taim bai bris bilong mipela bai ol i wokim. Mi save krai kam inap nau. Nau mi hamamas long bel bilong mi, mi tok tenkyu long Ok Tedi. (Many people have died trying to cross the river and I have pleaded to have a bridge built time and time again. I am happy now and I thank Ok Tedi for providing this bridge for us to use.)
Star Mountain LLG Manager, George Papin Nanden, urged the locals to look after the bridge.
“Displa bris nau istap long han blong yumi yet. Em yumi imas holim gut. (This bridge now belongs to us and we must all look after it),” said Nanden.
During the opening, Mr Werror also called on the communities to support the OTML operations so that such community projects can continue to be delivered.
“OTML is a 100% PNG owned mining company and all stakeholders including the communities have a role to play in looking after the company so that it can continue to help improve the lives of our people through such infrastructure projects,” he said.
OTML has implemented over K300 million in ITCS projects across the three districts of Western Province and the Telefomin District in Sandaun Province since 1997, covering health, education, roads, water and sewerage infrastructure, bridges, jetties, and airstrips.