Our flight to Buka, Bougainville from Kokopo was supposed to be at 13:20pm but it was delayed, therefore we spent all of the late part of the morning and most part of the afternoon at Tokua Aiport. At about 3pm the announcement came that Buka passengers must now go to the departure lodge so we were happy after we nearly got stranded in Tokua Airport.
From Lihir myelf and Patty sent sms to Jamie in Buka to arrange a guesthouse for us for one night only. Patty was to spend the night with Jamie and his parents so we booked for 5 of us. We touched down in Buka at about 5pm and for sure Jamie was there with the Hanis Inn bus. We checked into the rooms when Patty and Jamie left us. After putting our bags in we went for a evening stroll around Buka town and than headed back to have our shower and dinner.
While in Namatanai I briefed the teammembers of the Bougainville War, why it started and how etc. When we were in Daru I rang Michael Oni, ABG mining Minister and told him that my team will be in Buka on the 19th and wants to do an interview with him early on the 20th so he said no problem. However, while in Lihir I met him there, he was there for the June 15th Autonomous Government day with the Bougainville community in Lihir celebrating, unfortunately the flight to Lihir was cancelled so he didn’t make it.
I rang him up and he gave me some ABG member’s mobile numbers that we can talk to. On the 20th the Hannis inn bus took us to Gubu where the ABG Parliament house is. I asked Obed the man I know from Buin if there is any minister or member we could talk to, so he put us in touch with a woman who is the assistance officer for the speaker.
She rang the speaker and told us to wait for speaker Andrew Miriki, who was on his way. When he arrived I explained our trip and introduced the rest and myself. He told us to wait for a few minutes while setting up his office. He invited us in and we apologised for the short notice, he told us that he has all the time and can spend hours with us. We filmed him and than got back to the motel to get ready for the 4 hour trip to Arawa.
When I checked with every highway truck owner they told me that the hiring of a tuck ranged from PNGK800 and up. Also all of them calculated the distance and when it’s far, the hire charges went up. I rang Zhon Bosco my comrade, who operates Bougainville tours, if he could arrange a truck for us at a cheaper rate. With no time to waste he came up with one for just K800.per day, not charging distance; wah that’s great I told Zhon. He came with us across to Kokopau and showed us the truck; introduced us to the driver, Rodney. Patty made arrangements to go to Jamie’s father’s plantation to do some filming there. We followed the maroon truck all the way to the plantation. James Rutana took us around his plantation, proudly telling us that this is the way forward for Bougainville in terms of economy.
The picture here changes from that in Ok Tedi and Lihir. The team has shown and proven the fact which I told them: we don’t depend on mining, we live on agriculture. In-fact the speaker told them the same story. After the filming and farm sight seeing we had a big kaikai which James wife Rhoana prepared all fresh from the farm, local food. James even gave us two 1kg rice packets, which he produced, from his farm on the same ground as cocoa. We left them with a different heart in the late afternoon on our way to Arawa.