Bougainville Special Correspondent
In what was a significant but rather ordinary busy Friday for most Bougainvilleans, the governments of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea convened at the Arawa Youth Centre to discuss the future of Bougainville and its infrastructural and political endeavors.
Coined under the term Joint Supervisory Board, or JSB; the Prime Minister of PNG with his delegation met with the President of ABG Grand Chief Dr. John Momis. High on the priority of discussions were the developments in the region that the Prime Minister had committed to far over a year ago now when setting foot on the island in January of 2014.
In what can be apparent with PNG’s interest gaining quite a momentum in Bougainville, is the emerging cooperation between the state and the ABG. Yes, to that and what is to become of this unique friendship between the PM and ABG president which is amicably unique given the ill-famed past, more evident is Papua New Guinea’s renewed interest on the island which its inhabitants chased out from squatter settlements from other provinces of PNG at the dawn of crisis.
In order to understand where this is going, one has to know where it came from, particularly given that the relationship between Papua New Guinea and Bougainville in coming to terms in accepting the recent past. And this in fact remains the one issue that causes apprehension whenever there is anything to do with PNG, whom Bougainvilleans see themselves as different from given the obvious complexion of skin and cultural practices.
In addition, throw in the mix mining giant Rio Tinto though its subsidiary Bougainville Copper Limited’s continual push for the reopening. Well, what does the company have to do with this JSB? This is the interesting part; in fact, this event has so much to do with the company’s reputation with its shareholders. This JSB is in fact a significant step towards realizing the company’s vision. And what is this vision one may ask? It is none other than the reopening of Panguna.
And before this can be put away as mere speculation, why not look at the juncture at where this whole proceeding is currently developing towards. According to BCL’s 2011 presentation in London that indicated that ‘ABG and PNG governments are supportive but the political situation remains fluid’. This fluidity to BCL shareholders is a threat to realizing the vision, so what is it that should be done to alleviate this? Low and behold; the current gesture by the two governments in the JSB is in fact a consolidation of support by both governments as another step towards making the ‘vision’ a reality.
Envisaged in the pipeline, it is required that both governments must put a plug on the fluidity of its unpredictable political climate. Needless to say, investment depends on political stability. Otherwise, what can be the reason of forging this unique partnership? The people need to know the truth behind this partnership. Currently, it is Central Bougainville which has been receiving all the attention from both governments (national and ABG). What a coincidence Panguna happens to be located there too?