IS money more important than people’s life?
This is the answer that must be answered in the Rita Flynn Complex saga.
The facility was reportedly closed earlier this month due to claims of outstanding funds totalling K6.2 million to the PNG Sports Foundation for the use of the Rita Flynn Complex during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic over the last two years.
The closure saw critical medical equipment (such as the GeneExpert machine) being locked in by the owners awaiting payment.
PNG Sports Foundation’s executive director Albert Veratau says the Rita Flynn complex has already been open since receiving the directive from National Pandemic Controller David Manning on June 21.
The foundation, to date, has not received any payment for the use of the complex because it was agreed that the venue would be used for free during the pandemic.
The Rita Flynn Complex was part of the Port Moresby’s multi-million Kina sports facilities built with two purposes in mind.
The stadiums, fields, greens, courts and the swimming venue were used for the 2015 Pacific Games.
And in the end, were credited as one of the main reasons for the success of the Port Moresby Games.
This required a huge amount of government expenditure (K1.2 billion) and while the people were proud of the group of facilities in the nation’s capital that could rival anything else among Pacific Island nations, they were perhaps not as appreciative of the size and scale of the projects and the effort required to maintain and safeguard them from being run down through over use or conversely become little used “white elephants”.
Secondly, the facilities were termed as legacy venues by the Government in 2015 because their existence would now usher in what former Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko called a “sports revolution” that would see the spectrum of local sports advance and improve over the short and medium term through the use of the venues.
This vision for the Sir John Guise Stadium track and complex, the Taurama Aquatic Centre, the Bisini Sports fields as well as the Rita Flynn Courts and indoor complex, the tennis courts and bowling green’s came into fruition when Port Moresby hosted or co-hosted several major tournaments since 2015.
The Rita Flynn Courts and Taurama Aquatic Centre were used for the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination and the latter is being used as a make-shift hospital ward for the Covid-19.
Veratau highlights the concern on seeking Government support to repair the damages to the complex because the foundation does not have the funding to repair said damages.
And we sympathise with him because it cost money to maintain the upkeep of such facilities – electricity, water, workers’ salaries and maintenance.
For a meagre K6.2 million in rental, the NCD was forced to closed down the centre.
What happened to the multi-million in Covid-19 funds?
The facility at all cost should be opened as past records show there is always a spike in Covid-19 cases after huge gatherings – like the Independence celebrations and Christmas.
This time round, PNG is in the hype of elections with mass gatherings happening every day with hardly any practice of the Covid-19 protocol.
Polling Starts On Monday After Campaign And Then There Will Be The Counting And We Sure To Expect A Surge.Does The Government Think Money Is More Important Than People And Public’s Health And Safety?Give The Foundation What Is Due So The Facility Can Remain Opened And Maintain For The Possibility Of A Surge.Money And Funds Must Not Override People’s Health And Life.
The National / PNG Health News
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