Proper park for war relics needed
The National [ June 7, 2006 ]
By Bonney Bonsella
THE controversy surrounding the removal of the American bomber would have been adequately addressed if only a National Executive Council decision in 1997 for the development of a K43 million Constitutional Park and the National Heritage Centre to house such priceless war relics was fully implemented.
Acting director of the National Museum and Art Gallery Simon Poraituk said yesterday that two months earlier, an American company, Portico Group, based in Seattle, Washington, did a feasibility study to develop the plan located at the front of the Parliament House and the museum for close to K30,000.
But the plan is now hanging on the walls of the museum as a furniture collecting dust while proponents have vehemently argued to retain the Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress onshore.
The plan will also cater for a Modern History and War Museum that would provide a decent home to thousands of airplanes like the Swamp Ghost and others that have already been legally taken abroad or smuggled. [ *** PacificWrecks.com coverage of The History of Aircraft Salvage in Papua New Guinea ]
Mr Poraituk said on Jan 15, 1997, NEC gave approval under the Chan government to develop the park but successive governments failed to provide funding. A museum of Natural Science and Art Gallery was included as part of the development. Mr Poraituk said the museum had no record of the number of airplanes taken abroad. He said he was aware that currently, three war planes were being restored in Australia. He said two were being restored separately in Sydney and Wangaratta (Victoria) while one has been fully restored by the Royal Australian Air Force and is ready to be shifted back to PNG but there is no decent home.
“When they are fully restored, they must find a decent home to come back to,” he said. He said PNG did not have the technical know-how to take care of war relics and the museum also lacked the manpower to conduct surveillance to deter illegal shipment of war planes. He estimated that more than 3,000 airplanes were still lying in the jungles waiting to be uncovered and restored. Mr Poraituk said a proposal to spend K13.5 million to restore the old House of Assembly was yet to be implemented.