|The Western Pacific University will be constructed in Ialibu , SHP, PNG|
Papua New Guinea Government will start construction of the Western Pacific University (WPU) in Ialibu, Southern Highlands province in 2016, the Post Courier reports.
This follows the initial land payment of K7. 5 million to landowners this week by acting Secretary of the Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology Professor David Kavanamur.
Prof Kavanamur paid the payment during the Pangia Aisoli Memorial Secondary School graduation on Tuesday. It was paid to the Pekai-Aluwe tribe of Topopugl (Koromi) village of Ialibu signifying the landowners’ approval for the government to use their land to build PNG’s 5th State-owned university and the 7th in the country.
Ialibu town mayor Jacob Iki who is also a landowner received the payment on behalf of the people.
The unused colonial-era Ialibu airstrip and adjoining tribal land are being acquired for the university. Prof Kavanamur said that construction is said to start in the beginning of next year with the government expecting first intake of 3000 students in 2017.
The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology would provide the management of the technological university which at peak would enroll 6000 students from PNG and the Pacific. WPU is aimed at addressing the chronic higher education access problem currently faced by the country.
There are over 20,000 grade 12 leavers who are annually competing for only about 7000 spaces in the existing six universities plus other colleges. Meanwhile, the local people in this part of SHP welcomed the WPU as an important economic investment in a region which is not suitable for growing cash-crops such as coffee and is also outside the benefit footprint of the much-publicised oil and gas projects in SHP and Hela.
In related developments, the old Pangia airstrip is being upgraded to an airport capable of taking in larger aircrafts such as Dash 8 to serve the new university and associated movement of people.
The Pangia airport is under 30 minutes by sealed road east of the location of WPU in Ialibu and this will cut road travel time by an hour if the University students, staff and other clients were to use existing airports in Mt Hagen and Mendi respectively. Post Courier/ ONE PNG