Prime Minister Marape Supports Plans to Restore Rabaul Town

Tuesday 12 March 2024

 Prime Minister Hon. James Marape  fully supports  plans to restore Rabaul in East New Britain Province to grow the local economy from tourism, adding ,  the province’s four districts of Rabaul, Kokopo, Gazelle and Pomio have a lot to offer in tourism.

 Prime Minister Marape said tourists are not the only foreign visitors but the country’s own citizens, students, workers and people who visit Rabaul to enjoy World War II relics, see the Rabaul volcanoes and people’s way of life.

He said tourism is driving the province and other provinces should emulate East New Britain by investing in law and order.

 The Prime Minister was speaking in  Rabaul on Sunday,  when he announced a K10million funding towards plans by East New Britain Province to restore Rabaul town, which remains in ruins following the 1994 twin volcanic eruptions.

“Rabaul is a good tourism spot and the town must be restored to its old glory days if not far better in terms of roads and related infrastructure.

“We have to restore it,” he said.

Prime Minister Marape said there are positive stories of cruise ships loaded with tourists visiting Rabaul. “Having cruise ships coming in is a bonus for East New Britain and our country.

“The ships come with more than 3000 tourists in one cruise ship and with indications that four more ships coming soon back to-back is a testament to what this area can do for the local tourism economy,” said PM Marape.

He added that plans to getting old Rabaul back up and running with a good road from Tokua linking Kokopo, Gazelle, Rabaul and eventually to the volcanic sites is an economic investment from the tourism perspective.

In 1994 the historic and once idyllic town was devastated by the twin volcanic eruptions of Mt Tavurvur and Mt Vulcan. Much of the infrastructure, shops, warehouses, the wharf were some of the vital infrastructure destroyed or buried under volcanic ash.

Thousands of people and communities were displaced. Residents have moved and started families and are now living in settlements in Kokopo, Rabaul, Gazelle, Pomio and other areas.

Those on Matupit Island and a few in Rabaul have returned but life is not like what it used to be. It will be exactly 30 years this year since the volcanoes erupted on 19th September 1994.

 Mr  Marape added, a new Rabaul rugby league field is being built, power lines have been connected to the Matupit Islands from Rabaul, and the volcanic ash that covers the township is slowly being cleared.

“To come here to see the work that, Governor, you are doing wows my heart. For that we have allocated a K10 million funding to assist in the efforts to restore Rabaul.

“East New Britain is a model province in respect of an economy that is living outside of oil and gas revenue. “It is a better run province that is almost moving towards sustaining itself as far as the provincial government expenditure is concerned,” said Prime Minister Marape.

He also visited the nearby Matupit Island and urged the locals and youth to embrace tourism and capitalise on the volcanoes and positives that these have brought. Prime Minister Marape said sometime nature has its own plans but there are blessings as well.

“There is always a reason why things happen to us. You have moved back and have stayed on closer to the volcanoes and that is life.

“Look at the enormous potential tourists can bring when they come and visit the hot springs from under the volcano, on offer to tourists who like a warm bath,” Prime Minister Marape told Matupit Islanders.

Another attraction of the volcanoes is the wild fowls that come to lay eggs at the foot of Mt Tavurvur which locals sell to make money.

Prime Minister Marape himself took the time to visit the hot springs and soak his feet.

 The National Government plans to rebuild the Tokua-Kokopo-Rabaul Road to be named Namaliu Highway in honor of the late former prime minister and member for Kokopo Sir Rabbi Namaliu to promote tourism and the local economy.

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