The second of two barges – built by Yamba Welding & Engineering for the Ok Tedi Development Foundation in Papua New Guinea – was launched last week.
To mark the occasion and to prepare the barges for the journey to PNG in early November, representatives from the foundation, the Middle Fly Investment Landowners and the Middle Fly Trust attended the blessing of the barges at the Yamba marina.
Middle Fly Trust women’s representative, Solange Assan, blessed the 14metre barge, which will be used to take provisions up and down the Fly River to the various villages.
“As the women’s trustee, I am very happy to have come to Yamba to both witness and bless the ‘Fly Zamby’.
“This barge will be of great help to my people in the Middle Fly and many others across Western Province.
“With our villages scattered along the entire length of the Fly River (near 900kms), the delivery of goods and services has been very difficult and costly.
“But with these barges I see great improvement in the lives of my people.
“Thank you to Ok Tedi Development Foundation and Yamba Welding & Engineering.”
Jodi Middleton, the wife of Ok Tedi Development Foundation CEO Ian Middleton, blessed the 18metre barge, the Fly Navigator, which was launched several weeks ago and will “ply the Fly River, with a live-aboard crew who will maintain all of the navigation leads along the length of the river”, said Yamba Welding proprietor Bill Collingburn.
The foundation manages community development benefits from Ok Tedi mine operations on behalf of the 100,000 river residents living in 156 villages throughout PNG’s Western Province.
The PNG Government took ownership (87.8 per cent) of the mine in 2013; the remaining shares are owned by the people of the Western Province.
The mine’s website says “the mine is also involved directly in PNG’s development through infrastructure projects such as health centres, school classrooms, houses, roads, airstrips, jetties, water supply and communication systems”.