Free health care for PNG Ports staff and dependents

PNG Ports Corporation Limited (PNGPCL) has scored a first in health care for workers in Papua New Guinea when it announced that all its employees and their dependents will receive free and quality health care from the country’s premier health care provider, Pacific International Hospital (PIH).

“I am pleased to advice that PNG Ports Corporation Limited has entered into an agreement with Pacific International Hospital (PIH) whereby PIH will provide healthcare services to PNGPCL employees and their declared dependents,” Acting Managing Director, Mr Stanley Alphonse said.

“The facility is now available to Port Moresby and Lae based employees (via the Lae International Hospital). PIH is currently negotiating with medical services providers around the country to extend its health care facility to PNG Ports’ staff in other provinces,” Mr Alphonse said.

The services covered are extensive and include: Accidents and Emergency services, Anaesthesia and Critical care, Cardiology/Cardiac surgery, Critical Care, Dentistry, Dermatology, Dialysis, EYE and ENT, family medicine, general surgery, internal medicine, laboratory, neurology/neuro surgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Orthopaedics, Optometry and Optical Services (Eye Care), Paediatrics Pathology, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Plastic surgery, Radiology, Trauma care and Urology.

Mr Alphonse made the announcement to jubilant staff who will access free and specialist quality health care, and will not have to wait in long queues at the public hospitals anymore.

“Costs are fully covered which means no employee will be required to pay any additional amount,” Mr Alphonse said.

“The health care facility enables the employees of PNG Ports and their declared dependents to access general health care services,” he said.

This company benefit comes back to back with an ambitious Home Ownership Scheme announced in January as an initiative to attract, retain and motivate staff in its endeavors to improve and maintain staff performance levels.

“While PNG Ports is a company seeing immense developments at its ports to meet global demands, it understands that the well-being of its staff will result in enhanced productivity at work and ultimately, the achievement of company milestones,” Mr Alphonse said.

PNG Ports Savings and Loans Society names new Board

The PNG Ports Savings and Loans Society has a new and younger Board of Directors in place to generally oversee the efficient management and control of the Society.

The Interim Board was approved and endorsed by the Regulatory Body for Savings and Loans Societies - the Bank of Papua New Guinea. 

Members of the Board appointed are Beverly Nelson, as Interim Chairperson, and Helen Nanumea, Steven Madagi and Ben Tomba as interim directors.

The Board of Directors will be responsible for making decisions on management of investment funds, budgets, smooth operation of the Society and consider loan and withdrawal applications beyond the Savings and Loans team’s delegated authority.

Ms Nelson, on behalf of the Board, said they were happy to voluntarily serve for the benefit of the members to ensure that their funds are managed well and bring back good returns.

Ms Nelson has been a member of the Board as a Director since 2013 and in 2015 she was appointed Interim Chair.  She is currently a Project Manager with the Project Management Unit and has been an employee of PNG Ports for six years.

Ms Nanumea, Mr Madagi and Mr Tomba are all new to the Board after being appointed last year. 

Mrs Nanumea works with the ICT Department as the Team Leader-Systems Support and has worked with PNG Ports for 18 years.

Mr Madagi, who is the Team Leader-Employee Relations and Training at the Human Capital Department, has been with PNG Ports for two years, while Mr Tomba, the Team Leader-Standards and Licensing attached with Maritime Compliance has been working with PNG Ports for 12 years after joining in 2005.

The Society team, which reports to the Board is being led by Team Leader-Savings and Loans, Eunice Kot, and assisted by Loans Administration Officer, Josephine Sepe and Loans Information Officer, Roselyn Henao.

The Society is an entity owned by its members, and controlled and operated by its Board of Directors.

The main function of the Society is to receive funds from members as ‘Savings’ and ‘Loans’.  These funds are then loaned to members in need of these funds. 

Members are able to obtain loans at a fair and reasonable interest rate of one percent (1%) per month, while an interest of 0.35% is paid on savings every month end on the closing balance.

PNG Ports Savings and Loans Society to step up

Meeting client’s expectations is challenging, especially when your job is to deal with people who need money ‘urgently’.

That is just one of the demands Eunice Kot signed up for when she joined the PNG Ports Corporation Limited (PNG Ports) Savings and Loans Society as Team Leader in March, this year.

With a background in banking, Ms Kot brings to the organisation fresh ideas to counter and eradicate these challenges. 

She plans to improve efficiency in services, especially cutting down the turnaround time for processing loans and disbursing funds.

She also hopes to introduce ‘pull factors’ that will encourage former members to re-join.

Without elaborating, one of the ‘pull factors’ she said would take into account the PNG Ports Home Ownership Scheme.

The Society, although small, receives an average of 40 applications daily from its 503 members who are employed and working at one of the 15 ports owned and operated by PNG Ports.

The Society currently lends on a ratio of 1:2 and allows its members to get beyond the amount available and still save.

Working with Ms Kot are Loans Administration Officer, Josephine Sepe, and Loans Information Officer, Roselyn Henao.

Ms Sepe is a long serving staff member who has been with PNG Ports since November 1995, while Ms Henao joined in August 2012.  Ms Henao previously worked with PNG Microfinance Limited (PML) as a Business Loans Officer.

Ms Kot joins PNG Ports after also working with PML as the Supervisor-Internal Audits.  She was with PML for the last six years where she held many jobs as a Loans Officer, Team Leader-Loans, Risk Management Officer, Internal Auditor and subsequently Supervisor-Internal Audits.

A Board of Directors, headed by the Interim Chairperson, Beverly Nelson, and three directors, overseas the overall administration of the Society.

Andy Wata – a walking encyclopedia

In 1994, while everyone else was running away from the volcanic eruptions in Rabaul, one man picked up his tool box and boarded the almost empty flight to the East New Britain capital to play his part in restoring normalcy at the Rabaul port.

Four years later, the same man was in West Sepik carrying out plumbing works at the Aitape port.  He had just returned to Port Moresby with his tool box when news came that Aitape and his fresh plumbing works were completely destroyed by a tsunami.

Andy Wata, a Port Moresby-based Artisan Plumber with PNG Ports Corporation Limited (PNG Ports), dared two of PNG’s worst natural disasters and has many stories to tell of a career that has spanned 30 years but his fame within the company is not that.

This man from the mountains of Hela Province, home to the rich Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project, is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to his job.

In his own words: “What I know is in my head, where engineers have no drawings and I don’t know how to do it for them.  I can only point it out and they can draw it themselves.”

During the 30 years, Mr Wata frequently travels to all 15 ports owned and operated by PNG Ports to carry out plumbing works, and knows perfectly well where all the pipes, joints, mains and ‘everything’ is.

Engineers have no drawings/sketches of what he knows, but have begun documentations while accompanying him when he does his work at the port offices, wharves and institutional property’s.

Last year, there was broken pipe along the Stanley Esplanade in Downtown, Port Moresby.

Workers from responsible authorities tried to stop it and in the event, dug trenches here and there but could not find the source.

They soon figured that Mr Wata was the only one who would know, so PNG Ports recalled him from his annual leave where he casually walked to where the workers were sweating, inspected the leakage area and pointed out the correct spot to dig.

The leakage was stopped, business houses in Downtown were happy, and Mr Wata returned to complete his leave.

Such is the value of this long serving staff who has been at this job long enough to know it like the back of his palms. 

Mr Wata joined PNG Ports on April 25, 1987. Prior to joining PNG Ports, he had worked in 1968 with D.C. Watkins, the company that built the first high rise building in Port Moresby (ANG Haus).  In 1976, he left Watkins for Air Niugini and four years later moved to work with Ok Tedi from 1980 to 1986.

Bringing with him almost 20 years of experience, he was scooped by PNG Ports and has remained for three decades.

Everyone at PNG Ports can agree that Mr Wata is a pleasure to work with, he never fails to smile and greet anybody he meets, and works flawlessly with the skills of a pro.

The past 30 years, he had reported to work at the historical office beside the sea until PNG Ports closed down its operations and officially relocated on March 17 to the temporary location of the Head Office at the Credit Corporation Building in Downtown, Port Moresby. 

Standing behind the sliding glass doors in the foyer of the building at Cuthbertson Street, he looked out of place as waited for the elevator to take him to Level 5 and 6 where his colleagues had moved to.

He briefly gazed forlornly across the street and over the buildings to where the former Port Moresby port office was, perhaps reminiscing the good old days there.

“When I started work in 1987, the old office, which was built in the early 1920’s, was in poor shape.  The roof on one side of the building was rusted and almost falling.  Three months later we worked on that roof and replaced it,” he said.

The building was given some touch-up over the years, along with so many other developments that Mr Wata, as part of the skilled workforce, had played key roles he was proud of.

“The restoration of this building was one of the first projects I was involved in 30 years ago.  I was on probation and was looking forward to joining PNG Ports but had to do my job accurately so I could be employed permanently and look after my young family.  As a highlands man trying to take on a seaside-based job, I did not have the upper hand,” he recalled as he shyly wiped away tears.

“This building and other short stints at Oro Bay and Wewak port landed me the job, and here I am.”

“My port office for 30 years will be gone, and changes will take place.  These days are all about changes, I am looking forward to these changes but the old building I will still hold close to my heart because it is where the foundations were laid for the multi million kina changes PNG Ports is seeing today.”

He struggled to find the right words to explain the thought of the building being demolished soon, none came but the tears he fought back said it all.

Leaving the ‘old office’ was hard for long serving staff like Mr Wata.

He said in terms of work commitment, they could be counted on in those days.

“We used to bring back sawn timber off-cuts, nails, iron and whatever that was left from our jobs.  Sometimes our pays were delayed, at times there was no water, air condition and so many disadvantages but we persevered,” he said.

“Today, there are purchase orders here and there, we don’t try to save the bits and pieces but that is just what it’s like nowadays, if only today, we could be more responsible.”

“PNG Ports is the lifeline of the nation, it is also our (the employees) lifeline.  It is not a mineral resource like the LNG where it will one day be depleted.  As long as the ocean doesn’t dry up, PNG Ports will still be here to look after us.  We must respect our job, hold it carefully like an egg, nurture it, let it hatch, grow and prosper,” said Mr Wata.

His hands are rough and hard indicating the years of labour with PNG Ports, and hair that has greyed over time, but his tool box, which had seen him through a total of 50 years in the workforce, will not be stored away just yet.

The multi million kina project at Motukea is progressing, the Huon Industrial Park just started, PNG Ports is still rolling out the rehabilitation drive at all its ports, and Andy Wata’s ‘encyclopedia’ could still be required.

Retirement, for this Hela man, will come to him naturally, just like the LNG.