Eda Ranu: Speech by Mr Garry Hersey, Managing Director, IPBC on the Opening of Eda Ranu’s New Microbiology Laboratory

Thank you inviting me to share this important occasion with you. It is an honour to be with you to open the new Eda Ranu Environment and Quality Control Microbiology Laboratory.

On occasions like this we are reminded of the meaning of the corporate entity name Eda Ranu, derived from the Motu language meaning “our water”.

Eda Ranu plays an important role in providing water and sanitation to the capital city of Port Moresby and the wider National Capital District. Part of that role is to ensure that “our water” is clean and drinkable.

Clean drinking water should be taken for granted but unfortunately this is currently not the case for many in Papua New Guinea which is why it is a national objective within the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene – or WASH – policy that was launched by our Government in February this year.

We must work on the basis that in the near to medium term future, the provision of clean drinking water can be extended right throughout Papua New Guinea – not only in urban areas but also peri-urban and rural areas.

As our guests may be aware, IPBC has recently undergone a transformation, evolving in to Kumul Consolidated Holdings under the recent IPBC/Kumul Consolidated Holdings Amendment Act.

This does not affect our relationship with majority state owned enterprises such as Eda Ranu and Water PNG. In fact, we will see more state owned enterprises working together to explore synergies and to achieve positive outcomes such as those identified in the WaSH Policy.

The opening of Eda Ranu’s new Microbiology Laboratory is certainly a significant step towards our goal of providing clean drinking water to everyone.

Eda Ranu is in fact providing leadership and creating a blueprint for how we respond in other centres throughout the country.

I wish to acknowledge the stakeholders in this project, the Asian Development Bank and Sydney Water Australia.

The Asian Development Bank is a very good friend of the IPBC and Papua New Guinea having provided majority funding for the recently completed Lae Tidal Basin Project in association with PNG Ports.

We always welcome the participation of ADB and acknowledge the developmental work they facilitate in Papua New Guinea. I believe the ADB funded a twinning program between Eda Ranu as the recipient utility and Sydney Water as the mentor utility.

This brings me to Eda Ranu’s other key stakeholder in the project, Sydney Water.

We think of big cities like Sydney in developed countries such as Australia as having safe drinking water.

This is not always the case. In fact in 1998 Sydney was faced with its own water crisis when residents were forced to boil their drinking water. The crisis led to the Sydney Water Inquiry that placed Sydney Water under the microscope and the findings delivered later that year detailed no fewer than 91 recommendations by a variety of agencies including Sydney Water and NSW Health.

The recommendations of the Inquiry saw a greatly improved management of Sydney’s water supply.

And so we are probably now the beneficiaries of those lessons learnt over fifteen years ago. We are grateful for Sydney Water sharing their knowledge and experience.

The establishment of a facility such as Eda Ranu’s Microbology Lab. is essential for a rapidly growing city the size of Port Moresby.

We also need to be doing more to protect our waterways. This is another vital lesson learnt from Sydney’s experience in 1998.

In fact the 1998 crisis saw the creation of the Sydney Catchment Authority whose mandate is basically to protect the city’s waterways.

The Minister for State Owned Enterprise and Public Investments the Honorable Ben Micah raised the issue of protecting our waterways after he attended the World Water Forum in South Korea in April this year.

The need to do so extends from Port Moresby right throughout the country.

Once again we have the benefit of learning from the Sydney response to the crisis they experienced in 1998.

We too will need to do more to protect our waterways to ensure the integrity of our water supply.

We are also the beneficiaries of a strong relationship between Sydney Water and the National Association of Testing Authorities in Australia.

As recently as last month the two bodies signed an MoU ensuring that all new services and equipment that are connected to Sydney water infrastructure do not cause damage to the existing supply or other services.

In fact this is something we also need to consider as a number of new services are due to come on line following the successful completion of the Port Moresby Sewerage System Upgrade Project with its expected completion date in 2018.

So it is encouraging to see Eda Ranu drawing on existing relationships and knowledge from our friends and colleagues in Australia.

The National Association of Testing Authorities of Australia has stringent requirements and we are very fortunate that the organisation is prepared to share its knowledge and guidance.

I believe that the water testing method being undertaken in the Eda Ranu lab is only the start and we hope that other processes and procedures will also be accredited over time.

I know that the relevant documentation has been prepared, a microbiologist has been working in this project since June 2014 and Eda Ranu is in the process of acquiring the reference cultures and associated equipment to go forward.

With the establishment of the testing lab here today we still have some way to go to satisfy the requirements of the NATA and I look forward to hearing that Eda Ranu has been fully accredited, which I believe will in 2016.

In closing I wish to congratulate Eda Ranu on the opening of the new Lab. I believe the vision to gain accreditation from the NATA goes back to 2010 or before.

I congratulate the people, past and present, who have made this happen, within the Board and Management, for their vision and perseverance. We are another step closer to your goal of NATA accreditation and the provision of clean water to Port Moresby and PNG.

I also believe it was John Walmsley now retired, as Analytical Services Manager who originally helped identify the need for a Microbiology Lab and the need to improve staff training and equipment. We owe visionaries like John our thanks and acknowledgement. Without the vison there is no mission.

Finally I note that next week will see the 8th Pacific Water & Wastewater Conference being held at the Holiday Inn in Port Moresby.

It is extremely pleasing to see our two state owned enterprises, Eda Ranu and Water PNG co-hosting this event that will be attended by twenty-six Pacific countries.

I hope that the conference is a success and that it provides us with new ideas, technologies and guidance to effectively deliver our Government’s WaSH Policy for the benefit of the people of Papua New Guinea.

Thank you.