By Aloysius Laukai
The famous REBOINE, AROPA Airport in Central Bougainville officially opened for Business today by Prime Minister, PETER O’NEIL and ABG President, Chief DR. JOHN MOMIS amidst capacity crowd of what was estimated to be more than TEN THOUSAND people from South, Central and North Bougainville.
Photo above Ishmael
The airport was closed at the height of the crisis in 1990 and remained closed although the Peace Monitoring Group and several light aircrafts continued to land especially for Bank runs to Central Bougainville.
The opening was added extra flavour when three Airline Companies also flew in on the re-opening day.
The Once International Airport had the Airline PNG landing first then the Air Niugini’s Q 400 which was officially named KIETA to commemorate this special service into mainland Bougainville.
A plaque displaying this name KIETA was also unveiled by the Prime Minister PETER O’NEIL and ABG President DR. JOHN MOMIS this afternoon.
The Q400 carried the Prime Minister’s Official party whilst the Airline PNG carried Aropa Airport landowners who went to Port Moresby to complete the MOU on the future of the airport with the National Airport Corporation.
The other plane that landed today was the TRAVELAIR or the famous MANGI LO PLES which had the owner, MR. EREMAS WATOTO and several media team on it.
The opening ceremony was incident free although security was tight to make sure the opening went without any disturbance.
Dancers came from all over Bougainville
Speakers at the ceremony included the Minister for Communications, JIMMY MIRINGTORO, ABG President Chief DR. JOHN MOMIS and the Prime Minister PETER O’NEIL.
Comments from Peter O’Neil as reported by Brian Semoso
The PMs reply to President Momis struck the right cords with the masses.
“Mi no kam toktok politics. Mi no kam toktok independence, mi no kam toktok lo referendum. Mi kam lo opim airport blo yupla. Mi kam lo givim yupla wanem samting yupla bin laikim long taim yet. Na mi kam tu lo lukim wanem samting gen yupla laikim ba mi wokim. Hausik ba mi wokim, Rot ba mi wokim, schools ba mi wokim. Within the next two years , rot stat lo Kokopau na kamap long Arawa ba mi sealim blo yupla too..ba mi kambek gen planti taim bai yupla les lo lukim pes blo me lo Bougainville…”
Updated Reports 14 December
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and ABG President John Momis officially opened the K10 million Aropa airport just after 1pm today.
The opening was witnessed by a high-powered delegation from Waigani of State Ministers, heads of State-owed Enterprises (SOEs) and Bougainville leaders in Port Moresby.
The ribbon was cut by the two leaders to mark the official unveiling of the Kieta aerodrome plaque.
In what was a historic yet significant event for Bougainvilleans badly affected by the 10-year Bouganiville Crisis which started in 1989, it was an atmosphere of mixed feelings for locals.
Locals were excited with this opportunity and joined the delegation to set foot on the tarmac of the new airport.
Soon after the opening, National Airport Corporation (NAC) officials had to remove excited locals from the tarmac, most just wanting to have a closer look at the three planes from Air Niugini, Mangi Lo Ples and Airlines PNG that took part in the inaugural flight to Aropa.
The Aropa airport for the moment can only take aircrafts the size of Dash 8 and Q400 or smaller.
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