The Chief Ombudsman, Mr. Richard Pagen believes that there needs to be a paradigm shift in how the Ombudsman Commission does business from just being an investigative body to a body that will make sure that the people of PNG benefit from the country’s wealth and developments by receiving the basic goods and services.
In his introductory message, Mr. Pagen refers to the charter of the Ombudsman Commission in Section 218 of the Constitution, and stressed that both the Commission and the Government Bodies have a common interest in giving effect to the charter of the Ombudsman Commission because the Commission and Government Bodies in general, have a common interest:
- to ensure that all governmental bodies are responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people; and
- to help in the improvement of the work of governmental bodies and the elimination of unfairness and discrimination by them; and
- to help in the elimination of unfair or otherwise defective legislation and practices affecting or administered by governmental bodies.”
In its New Guinea Islands Regional visits beginning of the year, Chief Ombudsman Pagen and his officers met with the leaders of Manus Province on 2 January 2022 and discussed matters in relation to the debilitating public infrastructures in both the Correctional Institutions and Police Accommodation and lock-ups including the Wamundu Police Barracks.
The meeting was attended by the Governor for Manus Province Hon Charlie Benjamin MP, Provincial Administrator Mr Oka Nungu and the Provincial Police Commander Mr David Yapu while the Member for Manus Open and Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Job Pomat conveyed his apologies due to prior commitment with the Prime Minister and his delegation.
The Ombudsman Commission’s visits to Manus, New Ireland and West New Britain Provinces were necessitated by numerous complaints against the Government Infrastructures in Correctional Services and Police lock-ups including accommodation for Police and Correctional Officers.
An inspection report compiled by the Ombudsman Commission’s New Guinea Islands Regional Office cites for Manus Province, the deteriorating condition of ten (10) run down police staff houses and an incomplete single quarters residence which was built and left incomplete.
The purpose of the Commission’s visit to the province was to discuss with the elected leaders of the province on how best they can work together to help solve the police housing needs.
In the meeting, the Manus Provincial Administration through its Governor and the Provincial Administrator made a commitment of K1.2million under the law and justice sector funding to assist with the policing needs of the province particularly to police staff housing.
On 25 January 2022, following the Commission’s recent visit to the province, the Manus Provincial Administration wrote to the Commission and confirmed that the Manus Provincial Government had allocated K1.2 million while the Manus District Development Authority through its Chairman, Hon. Job Pomat had pledged another K1.millon totalling K2.2 million to commence maintenance and construction work on the run down and abandoned police houses.
There is little doubt that the People of Papua New Guinea are becoming increasingly aware of their rights and the public sector’s responsibilities. Over recent years there have been improvements made to the level of service provided but there is still more to be done before it reaches acceptable standards of economy, efficiency, effectiveness, fairness, impartiality, prudence and responsiveness.
These are not just fancy words: they have a real meaning to the people with grievances against government bodies (GBs) who find they are confronted with the overwhelming might of the State and all its instruments of power.
The Ombudsman Commission wishes to thank the Manus Provincial Administration and the Manus District Development Authority and their provincial leaders Hon Charlie Benjamin and Hon Job Pomat for attending to the policing needs of the province in an expedited manner.
The Commission is also very grateful with the co-operation and thanks the PNG Defence Force and Major-General Mark GOINA DMS, CBE, Commander of the Defence Force who will assist in transporting the materials from Lae, to commence maintenance and construction work on the run down and abandoned police houses.
The Commission also confirmed a very successful meeting with commitments made by the Leaders and was impressed with the kind of cooperation the leaders of Manus, New Ireland and West New Britain Provinces gave and their undertaking to work closely with the Ombudsman Commission in ensuring good governance and good leadership in Papua New Guinea.