The people of OK Tedi and the Fly River areas who benefit from the activities of the OK Tedi Development Foundation (OTDF) took delivery of a new aircraft earlier this month.
The aircraft, a brand new Series 400 Twin Otter manufactured in Canada, is the first of two the Ok Tedi Development Foundation Limited (OTDF) purchased on behalf of the 156-villages in the Community Mine Continuation Agreement (CMCA) area at the cost of about K15 million.
The aircraft was given a rousing welcome by traditional dancers and villagers upon arrival at Suki in the South Fly district before flying to Tabubil. There it was received by OTDF Chairman Nigel Parker and OTML Government and External Relations executive, Musje Werror and staff of both organisations.
Mr Parker said the decision to purchase the aircraft would not have been possible without the vision of the CMCA community leaders and the efforts of OTDF. He expressed optimism that the aircraft would serve the communities well.
OTDF CEO Ian Middleton described the occasion as historic, particularly for people within the CMCA regions.
“This is a significant occasion for the people and a wonderful opportunity made possible by the operational requirements of OTML.
“On behalf of the CMCA communities, OTDF has secured a 15-year Master Lease Agreement with OTML with a guaranteed eight per cent return per annum for the aircraft”, Mr Middleton said.
“This will generate valuable sustainable development funds that will benefit not only current but also future generations”
It will be operated from a Tabubil base by a team of Hevilift pilots and engineers.
The ODF was formed after the exit of BHP Limited from the Ok Tedi mine, and was incorporated in 2002 as a Non-Profit organization as provided for by the Mining (Ok Tedi Mine Continuation Ninth Supplemental Agreement) Act 2001.
A review of the CMCA in 2006/2007 led to the formation of the Ok Tedi Fly River Development Program (OTFRDP) under the OTDF. It has the primary role of mobilizing CMCA funds for and on behalf of the communities, and has been used as the vehicle for delivery of sustainable projects and programs to the CMCA communities since March 2010.