The Ombudsman Commission has opened its second Highlands Regional Office to serve the people of the Provinces in the Western End of the Highlands Region of Enga, Hela and Southern Highlands while its Mt. Hagen Office continues to serve the people of Eastern Highlands, Jiwaka, Simbu and Western Highlands.
The Western End Office was opened on 31 March 2023 and it is located in Wabag, the Capital of Enga Province.
Present to witness the opening of the New Western – End Office was the Attorney-General Hon. Pila Niningi LLB, MP representing the Prime Minister, along with Hon. Grand Chief, Sir Peter Ipatas, KBE, GCL, MP, Member for Enga Provincial and Governor for Enga Province, the Enga Provincial Administrator, Mr Sandis Tsaka and the officers of the Enga Provincial Administration. The Chief Lands Title Commissioner Molean Kilepak, his Commissioner as well as the Provincial Administrators of Hela and Southern Highlands Provinces and Provincial representatives from the three (3) districts (Western Highlands, Hela and Enga). The Chief Ombudsman Richard Pagen and Ombudsman Kevin Kepore and the Senior Management Team of the Ombudsman Commission also attended.
Not present during the launching of the Western-End office but expressed their support was Member for Kandep Open Honorable Don Polye and Member for Wabag Dr Lino Tom.
Honourable Sir Peter Ipatas said “Polye was in Port Moresby representing the Porgera Mine signing on that day and couldn’t make it, while Dr Lino Tom was overseas on duty trip’. For the other colleague MPs that did not make it, he briefly expressed disappointment that colleague politicians from Southern Highlands Province and Hela did not attend such an important occasion for the people they represented. However, he acknowledged the presence of the three (3) Provincial Administrators for attending.
During the opening, the Chief Ombudsman highlighted the different levels of the Commission from the Members of the Commission being The Chief Ombudsman and his two (2) Ombudsmen, the Executive Division consisting of the Counsel and Secretary of the Commission, and the six (6) Directors of each division.
The Chief Ombudsman speaking mainly in Tok-Pisin explained the role of the Ombudsman Commission saying that the Commission ensures that the service of the government must reach the people, the administrative processes and systems of governance must operate transparently, the laws of the country must benefit the country and leaders under the leadership code must uphold their roles as leaders with integrity. The Chief also clarified to the people their role and encouraged them to report if they did not see any service delivery and the non-performance of public servants under the leadership code. Chief Ombudsman said his team was there to see people receive the services they lawfully deserve. He clarified that the Commission does not only scrutinize MPs but also Provincial Administrators, District Finance Managers and others who are subject to the Leadership Code.
In addition, The Chief Ombudsman delivered examples of complaints received by the Commission so that the people would understand the work of the Commission. Mr Pagen said “The first complaint from 1975, Ombudsman Commission received was from a man from Mekeo. The man from Mekeo came to the Commission and made a complaint about a government worker that took his pig and did not pay for it. Upon investigation by the Commission, the Mekeo man was paid by the government worker”.
He gave other examples which included a complaint on Facebook regarding the awarding of a contract to a local contractor in Morobe Province to rebuild a Secondary school but failed to do so and was investigated. Upon giving these examples the Chief reiterated to the people of Enga that when the service of government does not reach the people, the Commission’s work is to investigate and to make sure these services of the government must reach the people.
Justice Minister and Attorney General Honorable Pila Niningi representing the Prime Minister presented his speech on behalf of the Prime Minister. He acknowledged the Prime Minister for giving him the privilege to officiate the opening ceremony of the Ombudsman Commission Regional Office Western–End. The Minister also acknowledged the Honorable Governor for Enga, Governors for Southern Highlands and Hela; members of Parliament representing the Electorates in Enga, Southern Highlands and Hela provinces, Provincial Administrators; Chief Executive Officers of the respective District Development Authorities, Members of the Law and Justice Sector and Development Partners.
The Minister also mentioned in his speech that he will support the Ombudsman Commission in the various law reforms, programs and institutional restructuring initiatives the Ombudsman Commission is undertaking to enhance its roles in preventing or addressing abuse of public authority. The Minister also encourages the citizens of this country to report the corrupt conduct of employees in the public service sector to the Ombudsman Commission.
To conclude the ceremony, Enga Governor Honorable Sir Peter Ipatas thanked the Ombudsman Commission for setting up the office and gave assurance that the Provincial Government would provide land for a permanent office building and staff housing. The Governor announced to his people that the Ombudsman Commission is here to stay and must make use of the services it provides.
With these remarks, Enga Governor Honorable Sir Peter Ipatas congratulated the Ombudsman Commission for this milestone achievement in the opening of the Highlands Regional Office Western–End.