Two years after the launch of the K95 million construction phase of the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone, the Madang-based project is yet to see any construction.
The K350 million project, touted to be a game-changer for the Fisheries industry in Papua New Guinea, generating 30,000 local jobs, has seen delay after delay.
This has caused industry stakeholders to question if the project is merely a pipe dream.
At the launch of the project’s K95 million construction phase, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill stated that the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone in Madang, would earn the country between K6 billion and K12 billion a year, once fully developed.
The initial Financial Investment Decision by the EXIM Bank of China was stalled by the lengthy court battle with Madang Environmental NGOs, as well as pressing landowner issues delaying the construction.
However, a review of government management and expenditure on the long-awaited project has revealed a K30 million expenditure, including a K4 million expenditure on the main gate alone, according to Trade, Commerce and Industry Minister, Wera Mori.
The lack of progress on the project has led skeptics to believe, the project may never see the light of day.
“Can I add about PMIZ, Pacific Marine Industrial Zone of Madang…if current policies continue it is dead. Nothing is going to happen. But it’s been a great dream. It’s got great potential if it’s done right. But nothing has been done right. Because no one is taking a long-term vision to say, ‘let’s enable the industry players to make a profit out of this’.” – Fabian Chow, Honorary Treasurer – PNG Fishing Industry Association
The National Fisheries Authority has admitted that the progress is slow, even seeing a transfer of the project between government agencies, first from the Department of Trade, Commerce and Industry, then to Kumul Holdings and recently back to the Department of Trade, Commerce and Industry, under the leadership of Minister Wera Mori.
“I would not give you any update. But the idea of PMIZ is a good one. It basically follows the desire of our Pacific leaders that they’re looking for a hub that Pacific Islanders could use as a processing hub and catapult for their overseas.
Unfortunately, the progress on that is pretty slow under the Department of Commerce. Recently it was shifted to Kumul Holdings and then back to Commerce. In fact, it’s taking too long and the interest by smallPacificc islands to come in is slowly eroding.” – Philip Polon, Deputy Managing Director – National Fisheries Authority