Brahman community in Madang need their bridge fixed or they’ll be cut off | Steven Marvii Gimbo

DSC07643Up to 1000 students and over 10 000 people including public servants and the rural people in Brahman and Bundi may suffer as the rainy season takes its toll on the roads and bridges quickly.

Worst affected will be the 700-plus high school students of the St Michael’s High School Brahman, who may see their school shut down only a month after the school year started. The high school will shut down if supplies don’t reach the school by Wednesday (19th Feb 2020). Medical supplies, other schools  and services may also be affected.

The Catholic Archbishop of Madang, Most Rev. Anton Bal, and long-serving Catholic lay missionary, Max David, are calling on authorities to act quickly to alleviate this situation.

Archbishop Anton decried the state of the road and is calling on those responsible for the road to quickly fix the road.

“We have two mines (MCC Ramu Nickel and Marengo Yandera) here and we have politicians from this area, yet it is surprising to see the road is in such a bad condition. The provincial government and the district must put some money into fixing the roads and bridges.

“It is also very scary to notice that the Baia bridge has almost been carried off. If we have a very heavy rain up in the mountains, this bridge will be swept away. People living in Bundi/Brahman side will be cut off. The schools will shut down and the people will suffer as a result of this,” the newly appointed Archbishop said.

Pioneer Missionary and founder of the Brahman Mission Station, Max David, also reiterated the Archbishop’s call and saying the road condition is so bad students cannot travel in by PMV, with half the student body not arriving yet because of the poor road conditions affected by the rainy weather.

“One more flood and we may lose our bridge, and our primary school, secondary school, health center and all the needs of the community in Brahman and Bundi will be cut off and shut down. It is important to us that this roads and bridges be maintained,” he said.

The long-serving missionary is calling on the MPs from the other districts and the province to assist. He said they have students from all over the province and have taken care of them without any help from the authorities and the other districts who have sent their children to the secondary school in Brahman.

On the Baia Bridge, he said the foundations of the bridge were washed away, with the concrete piles wearing away because of poor engineering and a flood will wash away the bridge anytime soon.

“We need to save the bridge, and some form of preventative work needs to be done to save the bridge and later reconstruction work must be done to secure it permanently,” he said.

Mr David said the authorities are aware of the predicament they are in, and he doesn’t want the Baia Bridge to meet he same fate as the other bridges in the province which were destroyed due to constant neglect.

He said K1.4 million to secure that bridge and K600,000 to upgrade the roads, were allocated but provincial authorities told him that no funds came in. He is hoping that this year, funds will be made available to upgrade the road.

He said if the roads and bridges were not maintained, the mission station would be shut down affecting thousands.

PART 2: Other costs of home building you should not ignore

Pit toilet. The slab is soil cement and a bit of grass.

After the other two blog posts, I got overwhelming responses from those who had done it and others who are about to decide.  I thought I should  talk about the other costs involved in building a home in Papua New Guinea.

The biggest costs, obviously, are the  materials. When you begin, the material list is simple. You will be buying (if you are building with timber and stilts)

  • cement bags,
  • posts, bolts
  • bearers
  • AND… very important gravel and water.

I’ve added water because, if you are not near a water source, you need to truck in your own water. We used at least two 44 gallon size plastic drums for the initial mixing then we had to refill.  It cost us K10 to refill the two drums and K100 to pay for transport to the building site. Also bear in mind that cement is caustic and gets very uncomfortable on the skin, so you need to wash it off after working. This  brings me to the next cost.


Transport is one cost that many people don’t pay attention to.   My suggestion is to build relationships with drivers and vehicle owners who are able to transport your supplies.  Pay them well.  K20 and K50 won’t do. They pay for fuel and maintenance plus food for their families so take all that into consideration.  Always pay above the normal price. You don’t want to create unnecessary disagreements. We made it a point to also buy them lunch or drinks.  Simply because these guys work hard and their income is irregular.


Drinking water and food are a daily cost.  During the initial building process where a lot of hard physical work is done, you will note that the amount of water  and food consumed is phenomenal.  You WILL NOT get by with a bottle of water a day and you need a large Esky. It will cost you K500 but you will not regret it.

This was our daily consumption rate:

  • 4 crates of pure water
  • 2 plastic bags of ice
  • ½ carton of snacks biscuit
  • 3 packets of rice
  • 4 cans of dolly tuna
  • at least two large cabbages
  • cooking oil

I cannot stress the importance of ice in the nambis heat.  Buy blocks of ice. NOT ice cubes. The reason is that ice cubes melt quicker and you don’t get the freeze you want.   Ice water keeps your core body temperature down during and after you put in the hard yards. You find that you can work longer if your core temperature is cooled.

That’s the science of it.

This is what you want. 


One 10 cubic meter load is more than enough for a small house.  I’m talking about the small (or big…) construction tipper trucks.  We needed two loads. The foundations are done but we still have the left over from last year.

This size. 


Sanitation on site is… like… I shouldn’t even be saying this…IMPORTANT! SUPER IMPORTANT!  First thing. DIG A PIT TOILET!  We dug out toilet hole at least 4 meters. Then we built a  soil, grass, cement slab and placed it on a foundation of hardwood timbers. I’ll post the instruction later.  Don’t use soft wood. You don’t want to end up in your own… ****.  Unless you prefer to squat,  go  buy a plastic Tuffa toilet seat from KK Kingston.

And get a good supply of soap every month.

Reason why all of the above is  important is that you don’t want to be dealing with sick brothers, uncles, friends who get typhoid or dysentery. Your costs go up.

I’ll post part 3 later when I get my act together. 😀

Part 1: Taking the first step, trusting and believing

Digging the first post holes after setting up the profile. The ‘profile’ is the outline of the building that includes the measurements of how far your roof overhang will be and how big your building will be.  It needs precision and patience.  Note also how the first post hole is being dug directly under where the point where the stings cross.  It needs to be done with every hole.

I promised myself that once I took this journey of building our own home, I would share whatever I learnt with others who may be going through this process or are at the crossroads where they’re trying to decide between a home loan or a ‘build it yourself project.’

I chose the later.   This is  a personal preference. Primarily, because I hate loans of any sort  and I detest  the fact that you have to report to a financial overlord who doesn’t care about your family’s welfare and  monthly finances.

The other reason, also personal, was to remove myself from the depression of calculating how much I rent I paid to landlords every year.  Paying rent gives you a false sense of security. It’s only when you miss a few days, that you realize how much the landlord dislikes your lack of punctuality.

Please note that this is not the perfect option. This option works if you have access to land. Also note that we had a lot of help from friends and family especially our younger brothers, their friends,  our friends and their parents.  So I can’t claim all the credit :D.


Your home won’t happen if you try to ‘ease into it.”  Make a decisive move. Our decisive move was to leave the comfort of rented accommodation and, literally, set up camp where we intended to build.  Putting yourself in a difficult position, creates innovation.  Innovation doesn’t happen in a place of comfort.  The move forced me to research and design everything from camp designs, pit toilets, sanitation,  house designs, building materials and building options.


A guru once said to me: “Whatever you want to do, go and do it and the Universe will come and help you.”   On the first night, after completing the camp.  I laid on the ground looking up into the starry sky. My daughters had moved to Madang with their mother and I, dirty and sweaty was thinking to myself: ‘WTF have I gotten myself into?’

All I had was a design of a rather large house drawn on SketchUp (great software BTW), 36 metal posts bought from Atlas Steel, hardwood bearers and no idea how I was going to build it or who was going to build it.

Then, a very important family friend and elder came to visit that night.  He happened to be a builder and owned a small construction company. Long story short.  He asked: ‘Who’s going to build it for you?’

I said: ‘I’m still thinking of it.’

He said: ‘Go and bring the bearers and the posts and we start building tomorrow.  The rest, you just trust and believe.’

The first part of home building is the right state of mind.


Don’t settle for less. The profile of your building is super important. I cannot stress this enough. GET AN EXPERT TO DO IT.  If you don’t your whole building won’t turn out as you expect.  With an expert, this job will take at least two days depending  on the size of the house.


If you are building on stilts, you have to decide between tall and short posts. I chose the 1.8 meter posts.  Which gives enough storage space under the house. The floor will be head high when you lay the bearers (the big timbers that sit on the posts horizontally.)


Don’t buy the studs (wall timber) if you have not bought your bearers.  Timber that is exposed, deteriorates in wet weather.  Don’t go buying doors if you don’t know how wide your door frame will be.  The general sequence is:

  • Posts, bolts, bearers and cement bags
  • Joists (timbers that go on the bearers, walls stand on them)
  • Studs (wall timbers)
  • Trusses (roof timbers)
  • Kapa
  • Outer walls
  • Flooring
  • Inner walls, ceiling, electrical, plumbing etc…

I hope this helps, I’ll continue in part 2.

Dismantle the slavery system: Build your own home, use solar, free water

The high cost of housing in Papua New Guinea makes me angry every time I talk about it.

Reality is our economy (as it applies to housing) follows a model we did not invent. It would work if incomes were higher and rent was regulated (like the price of rice) and made affordable. That’s not the case in Papua New Guinea.

In fact, rent is UN-AFF-ORD-ABLE. Woe to the wide eyed youngster who just graduated with an first degree from one of our very expensive universities. He will never be able to fully afford rent for the next decade of his working life unless he works for a mining or petroleum company.

Port Moresby and Lae rentals that are listed at K800 to K2500 per week. Most workers only dream of getting paid that much per week.

The system needs to change for us. Or we need to defeat the system by finding an alternative that brings down those ridiculously high costs that burden our families.

Here are my tips on how you can build an alternative like a badass guerilla!


Getting land and building your own house is, arguably, the best way to go. It’s like giving a middle finger salute to the high rentals and real estate rip offs who claim to be solving PNG’s housing problems. If more people do it, companies will be forced to lower prices at some stage.


If you have access to land, use your superannuation housing advance portion to start off the building that you are going to live in. Some will tell you to use that as collateral to get a home loan. You can, if you want to. My advice is, do it the hard way: Be in control of your own destiny instead of willingly enslaving yourself to a financial institution using money that belongs to YOU!


From my personal experience, I found kit homes to be high cost and low value. On average, a 2-bedroom kit home costs as much as a large 4-bedroom house you build yourself. They are overrated and the marketing makes you believe that it is convenient and cheap for you. It’s not. Don’t be fooled.


If you want to build, locally produced bricks can cost K5 a piece. If you know people, you can get them for K3-K3.50 a brick. As a rough estimate, an 8 X 5 meter house (minus the plumbing, and electrical) will cost you about K8000-K15,000. Another simple example, a 2.5 meter column of 30 bricks costs K150. Six columns cost K900. One cement bag costs between K20 and K30 depending on where you buy it. You also need reinforcement bars from Atlas Steel or some other supplier.


Solar kits are cheap and easy to install. Don’t sacrifice quality. The cheapest kit starts from K1500 at Brian Bell Electrical. Wire your house first, then get an expert to install it. A lot of people think of ‘village type’ solutions when they talk solar. power. It’s not just for village type accommodation. You can use it as a primary or secondary power source in town or urban peripheries.


You can still live in comfort using gravity fed water or by installing a solar pump for your in-house plumbing and using water from your tanks. The other option that can be relatively expensive is to have an expert drill a well for you. It will cost a bit in Papua New Guinea but you won’t regret it. You get an abundant supply of water even during dry season.

Go defeat the system!

‘On The Run Services,’ the family business that runs errands for you!

I love stories of small family business.  I stumbled across  a Facebook page for ‘On The Run Services.‘   They facilitate passport processing, NID collections and a host of other things.  I asked Karaut Daniel Aimo  to send  their story. I am posting unedited.

OTRS“On The Run Services (OTRS) is basically an ERRANDS business. We do odd jobs for clients that do not have the time to handle their business such as: –

Passport lodgments (new/renewal) – NID card and birth certificate pick up – IRC TIN/COC/HAV lodgment – IPA Business/Company Registration – Delivery of gifts/packages – Sourcing of items for Overseas Clients – Banking (Deposits/Withdrawals) – Western Union – Land Title Search’s, etc. – Airline/Hire Car/Hotel Booking – Work permits/Visa (Labor) – Aussie Visa

We are not limited to the services mentioned above but can cater on clients request. We registered on the 20th March of 2019 so we are just reaching 1 year of operation.

We are a family business and operate out of our home. OTRS was started when we lost our mother to breast cancer on the 28th of December 2018 and our brother Andrew wanted us as a family to have an extra income opportunity and since we had a lot of friends and family (contacts) and were basically doing errands already for them we decided to capitalize on that opportunity.

We mostly operate in Pom but cater for clients in other provinces as well. Our motto is “Always Deliver On Time.”


We believe in Honesty and Trust!

We hope to expand to other provinces soon and plan to open an office in Port Moresby soon. We try our best to officer our services as affordable as possible.

Our SME account at BSP just got approved and we will soon be using it as our main business account.

We can be contacted by email:,  Mobile/Whatsapp: 71404763 FB Page: On The Run Services or  Post Office: P.O Box 1412 Vision City NCD

PNG State agencies need better collaboration & sound Coronavirus information dissemination strategy|Media Council


The Media Council of PNG is calling on all state agencies involved in policing and securing our borders, and our people against a potential Novel Coronavirus outbreak, to be better coordinated and to collaborate more closely, and to ensure that all preparatory measures are clearly articulated to the mainstream media, if our country’s people are to be kept informed, and reassured of their safety.

MCPNG member journalists who have been covering in-country developments with regard to the Coronavirus, report that state agencies are not working together, and at the worst, have reverted all responses to the National Department of Health. An NEC directive restricting Ministers, other than the Health Minister from speaking on the virus response in each of their areas of responsibility, has not helped in establishing whether ‘screening measures’, against an impending virus outbreak, are as effective as they should be.

The MCPNG calls on all these state agencies to utilize the mainstream media more effectively. We stand prepared to work with every state agency which has some responsibility in being part of a one PNG government approach to installing protection and prevention measures to keep our people safe, and more importantly, informed of developments with regard to the coronavirus.

We have already seen the onset of what has been confirmed as misinformation about positive cases of coronavirus in the country. This misinformation can lead to

widespread panic and disorder, if our people do not have the relevant AND credible information they need.

The MCPNG suggests the following to improve the way preparatory work information is being made available to our citizens:

  • National Department of Health as the lead agency, to proactively schedule regular briefings and situation reports, and to make these open to all media organisations for coverage;
  • For all involved state agencies to proactively update the media on what measures each of them is responsible for; and
  • For all ministers responsible for these state agencies, to collaborate and consult more proactively, so that the correct, detailed information is made available for public consumption and awareness.

    The MCPNG understands that a decision by the National Executive Council lifted a travel ban which was earlier put in place by the Immigration and Citizenship Authority.

    It is the MCPNG’s fervent hope, that corporate and diplomatic interests do not override our collective efforts to keep our people safe.

    MCPNG members have continued reporting on the medicines shortage in the country; and cannot stress enough the enormity of the situation, should there be a coronavirus outbreak in PNG. Much of the drugs currently in short supply in our health centres and hospitals, are first-line antibiotics for cold and flu.

    Physical checks at our main international gateway in Port Moresby, currently leave the health of our people, resting on the assumption that every passenger arriving in the country from a port where there are positive coronavirus cases, will be truthful and honest about their health and medical status. We need the right screening equipment to be installed.

    Mainstream media outlets continue to be the most credible source that the majority of our people will turn to for information and awareness. Please use us more effectively.

    Authorized for Release by: Media Council of Papua New Guinea

Stranded: PNG students transiting from China refused boarding by Phillipine Immigration

After a long day waiting for our flight to Manila to transit to Pom, we were removed from the flight to Manila.

A total of 12 students were not allowed to board the flight to Manila. The
Manila immigration could not give us access to at least transit to our country. While getting to the airport and also at the airport we were checked throughly and scanned almost 10 times to check if we were infected. There was not sign of infection.

It is not only in Shenghai but also Beijing. We tried to get flights to go around Manila to our our country but all flights are cancelled.

Meanwhile, other country’s have charters for their people to at least return to their countries . This is not fair and is not humanly to be put in such situation.

There is no proper advice from the government and PNG citizens here are all in confusion from true and false informations shared via social media. Please we urge the government to at least intervene and help us in this time of need.

The frightening this is that we can not go back to our school and we are stranded here with no where to go.

We suggest and urge our government to at least help us as we are running short on options and really need the the government s intervention.

Our parents can only do so much by paying for our tickets which have already gone to waste. Our flight from Shenghai to Manila was a waste after being removed from the plane. A lot of money, headache and heartache is shared and we are all out of options.

We the ministry for foreign affairs to help with immigration so we can board the plane or a least an intervention

We write as we wait at Shenghai International airport for two days now without any hope.