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- 26/07/2007 at 12:53 am #98209
For three plus years I have sat by and felt sorry for our trekkers and other companies who are forced to wait at the Kokoda Airport. What we as Australian's take for granted, is not available at Kokoda or for that matter, the majority of airports in PNG:
There have been no toilets, water, or basic amenities at Kokoda since I commenced this trekking business.
With us it is not too bad as my JV Partners' family block is not too far away and we have vehicles that can run back and forth but for other companies it proves more difficult and the oil palms adjacent to the airstrip has been the only alternative.
Earlier this year we tried to put in a pit style toilet but someone in the area decided they needed the canvas surrounding the walls more then the toilet so this idea clearly did not work.
Hence, we had to come up with another solution. The only solution I could think of was to extend the terminal building and with besser blocks, put in a septic toilet system. So my plumber Dickson was sent down to Kokoda to commence the work. Normally he is our full time packer but is a jack of all trades and took on the challenge of changing the Kokoda Airport as we once knew it.
This is what we have done so far!
All the long grass surrounding the terminal area has now been cut. Still has to be levelled but its a start:
IMGP4103__Medium___Small_.JPG26/07/2007 at 1:04 am #98208
After we started cutting grass surrounding the terminal building we came across a cement wall which looked pretty ugly just sitting there so decided to make it look pretty instead by having it painted in something traditional to represent the ORO PROVINCE:
So off to Kokoda went our screen printer who does our t/shirts to try his skills at painting. The result is not too bad at all – 100% better I think you will all agree to a cement wall.
The themes I gave him were: Traditional Sing Sing Group; Traditional Guesthouse Huts; Tapa Cloth Design; The Alexandria Butterfly the largest in the world found in the Oro Province; Bush
Photograph: one side of the wall which when this was taken had not been completely finished. Yesterday 25th July our artist completed the final touches to his masterpiece! Now all we have to hope is that no-one spits buai all over it or grafitti's his work:
IMGP4364__Small_.JPG26/07/2007 at 1:08 am #98210
Photograph: the other side of the cement wall where trekkers are already lining up to have their photograph taken. This photograph was of our trek which headed back in from Kokoda last weekend:
IMGP4421__Small_.JPG26/07/2007 at 1:11 am #98211
Photograph: many of our KLT porters and guides have been lending a helping hand to do volunteer work in our drive to clean up Kokoda and the Kokoda Airport. Here you will see them hard at work cutting a path leading down to the mural area:
IMGP4398__Small_.JPG26/07/2007 at 1:14 am #98212
Photograph: The extended airport terminal building as at the 22nd July.
IMGP4400__Small_.JPG26/07/2007 at 1:19 am #98213
Photograph: This area has now been cemented but is the start of what will be a toilet / shower area with the door opening into the terminal building. This area will be surrounded by besser blocks to avoid break-ins to steal the toilet….yeah believe it or not, we have to make it tough to destroy and/or steal as the airport terminal building sits on its own in the middle of nowhere so would be an easy target:
IMGP4402__Small_.JPG26/07/2007 at 1:21 am #98214
Photograph: We have to thank our KTL boys once again for their hard work in digging by hand the ground for two septic tanks. This ground is full of rocks so the work has been very rough going and at times 60 boys had to take turns. However the job is now complete and the septic tanks are in the ground. Payback for the boys is the first cab off the ranks for our next lot of treks as all names are being recorded and their hard work will then be acknowledged:
IMGP4403__Small_.JPG26/07/2007 at 1:27 am #98215
Photograph: our builder has created quite a few win haus's for use by trekkers when waiting for their aircraft to arrive. They will provide shade and a little atmosphere for trekkers to have their photographs taken etc
IMGP4404__Small_.JPG26/07/2007 at 4:34 am #98218
Photograph: our KTL boys hard at work cutting up logs which will help with seating and the overall affect when finally completed
IMGP4338__Medium_.JPG26/07/2007 at 5:43 am #98220
For any 'trekking companies' reading this, we ask that you give strict instructions to your guide and porters not to destroy the property as we have already had one case where they deliberately spat buai all over the newly finished mural. It was cleaned off successfully but in full view of everyone and in broad daylight they had the hide to do it in the first place!
The work we are doing is for the benefit of 'all trekking companies' not just ourselves so we would appreciate you instruct your staff accordingly to respect other people's property and not to destroy our hard work and expense at the Kokoda Airport.
I know Rotary have tried in the past to put a decent terminal building at the airport and failed. Now it is our turn. Hopefully now that we have the help of the people of Kokoda and surrounding areas putting their hard sweat into the project, it is hoped this time round it will remain to serve our clients/your clients and the people of Kokoda and surrounding districts when they fly in and out of Kokoda.
The women of our porters have even started planting flowers and palms so it is very much a community project.26/07/2007 at 5:52 am #98221
When finished the large tank will store the water and it will be Rotary hand pumped up to the smaller tank on top of the building and gravity fed back down into the toilet and shower area. The tank will be surrounded by a 4 metre trimdeck fence with razor wire to protect it from vandals.
IMGP4399__Small_.JPG21/11/2007 at 2:17 am #99088
Update 21st November: On Monday this week I flew into Kokoda and took a look around at the airport terminal building and other items I went down to inspect.
There is still some more work to do but the end result is a much more functional building refer pic below taken Monday 19th November.
DSCN1166__Small_.JPG21/11/2007 at 2:21 am #99089
Trekkers seen here outside the new terminal building. On another note, I received a phone call from a Rotarian who has been travelling in and out of Kokoda for years in relation to the Rotary Hospital. He thought he had arrived at the wrong airport! When he got back to Australia he phoned me up to say how impressed he was with what we had achieved.
Now the hard part will be keeping things from being STOLEN, but we will try our best as we have built a security house at the back and have a family staying there with a track radio. Any problems they will alert our Kokoda base and the boys and our truck will drive up to the airport.
DSCN1140__Small_.JPG21/11/2007 at 2:26 am #99090
We sent down our mechanic last week by the name of Peter who mowed the runway and the area around the terminal building with our donated New Holland tractor. Unfortunately there was a little bit he could not finish as a spring broke. However he managed to finish the runway so it all looked good.
To continue reading, please click on page (2) below:
Tractor___Paulo__Small_.jpg21/11/2007 at 2:32 am #99091
The toilet and shower is now the next priority and as our plumber Dickson is living in the security house this will now be his next project to finish this area and have it painted with the paint I took down on Monday.
We decided to build it out of besser blocks to avoid someone breaking in to steal the toilet, basin etc.
It will also have a wooden and steel door so more added security.
For any trekking company wishing to have a key, please email me in the New Year. The keys are special locks that cannot be duplicated without our permission so they will not come cheap.
However, we have not asked anyone to help us with the cost to provide these amenities, so for anyone wishing to use them, your contribution will help us towards paying for the security and someone to clean the toilets and terminal building; mow the lawns; attend to the plants and so on.
Photograph: Work in progress 27/11/07 – Toilet and Shower Block
To continue reading this article, please click on page (2) below left hand side of this page.
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