"Namatanai - a Small & Isolated Village" Namatanai by Bwana_Brown

Namatanai Travel Guide: 6 reviews and 14 photos

Even with all my travels to the four corners of Papua New Guinea, Namatanai was one of the smallest villages that I visited. The occasion was to check out the small generator in a new 'run-of-the-river' hydro project being constructed nearby, at Sohun. Here you can see the new concrete structure, with a few workers standing on the far side of the dam, as the brown water slowly starts to fill the resulting headpond.

Namatanai was a quiet little spot then, and even today it only consists of maybe six small shops, a single hotel and some government administrative offices. However, recent reports suggest that life has not become any easier for the residents in the quarter-century since I was last there! The road system on New Ireland Island has deteriorated over the years and is now so bad that it is impossible to drive through certain areas of the island. This makes it very difficult for the locals to bring their produce to the town market and it also drives up the cost of using the local 'bush taxis' or private motor vehicles (PMVs). The Namatanai airstrip is now covered with tall grass but the main runway is cleared and filled with gravel to at least allow for landings by small aircraft. With the roads in such bad shape, transportation by both air and sea has assumed greater importance for Namatanai.

Hitting closer to my heart is the fact that the reliability of electric supply has also deteriorated. Power to small villages like this all over PNG is the responsibility of government, with the national power company (Elcom, for whom I worked) providing technical assistance. With frequent breakdowns in both the government-run diesel and hydro power facilities, the locals have had to buy their own small generators or revert to using gas or wood fires for lighting and cooking. It seems life has not become any easier since independence in 1975. Please check out my 'General Tips' for a map of Namatanai's location in PNG.

Pros and Cons
  • In a nutshell:A nice spot if you have a good book and lots of time!
  • Last visit to Namatanai: Dec 1980
  • Intro Updated Aug 18, 2005
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Reviews (3)

Comments (9)

  • ullfri49's Profile Photo
    Jun 17, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    Very interest to know about your work this far pacific area of png

  • BillNJ's Profile Photo
    Dec 20, 2009 at 6:09 AM

    I didn't know that this part of PNG was a former German colony. Glad to learn about the early colonial history -- and the much later hydro electric power project on which you worked.

  • craic's Profile Photo
    Mar 25, 2008 at 11:53 AM

    i love these old pages

  • yumyum's Profile Photo
    Feb 13, 2008 at 1:08 PM

    Great that work took you to such off the beaten path locations.

  • traveldave's Profile Photo
    Nov 2, 2007 at 6:27 AM

    It's great that you were able to visit so many places like this that are so far out in the middle of nowhere.

  • JLBG's Profile Photo
    Oct 26, 2005 at 8:34 PM

    That must be heartbreaking to learn that something you have put to birth is not working properly anymore ! This looks a place away from everything !

  • sachara's Profile Photo
    Sep 6, 2005 at 12:59 AM

    Glenn, I´m really fascinated by all your detailed PNG pages !

  • globetrott's Profile Photo
    Aug 26, 2005 at 2:01 AM

    an interesting page, Glen !

  • acemj's Profile Photo
    Aug 18, 2005 at 4:17 PM

    Great recollections of your time there and your project. It's unfortunate that the infrastructure seems to be falling apart.


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