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Thursday, 30 April 2015

Inside the joy of travelling the Buka-Buin highway

Leonard Fong Roka

It could be the joy of going home and visiting families but rather at a little cost of highway cruelty I’d never felt before for there are a few vehicles that serve passengers of this road.

Most passenger vehicles leaving Kokopau in the northern tip of Bougainville for Buin in the southern most district of Bougainville generally depart between 12 PM and 2 PM (Bougainville Standard Time) and track south along the East Coast of Bougainville.

All Buin bound passengers in Buka prepare well for their journey home. Shopping for the family at home; getting enough money into the pocket for the little visits in the many road-side markets shelling fresh fruits and garden produce and shops and also stops in Arawa or Wakunai.

All vehicles leave Kokopau before passenger vehicles for central Bougainville; and closely at the same time with those travelling to Siwai District.

The journey takes us some areas of north Bougainville mainly Tinputz District through Central Bougainville.

After about 3 hours travellers reach Arawa, the former provincial capital of Bougainville, and spent a little amount of time here; mainly at the main Arawa Market.

More passengers join here the few from Buka in Arawa.

The passenger trend over the years is normal and known. Not all passengers that get on board Buin transports reach Buin. Some are Buin people living their lives in the many places along the Buka-Buin road, many in Arawa, but love to be on a Buin person’s vehicle.

On the road there are also Buin people or other persons with connections to Buin that wait for transports to Buin.

Thus from Arawa it is neither the vehicles get overloaded or gets empty as it moves on for Buin. When more passengers get on it is a nightmare for naturally on Bougainville the Buin people are said to be reckless and care little on how much passengers or cargo that the vehicle could sustain for safety reasons.

But the journey goes on.

Becoming from Oria, the passenger vehicles, begin their drop-offs and all Buin transport service providers seem to be the best service providers for all transport all passengers right to their door steps.

This is the most painful part of the Buka-Buin transport. The main feeder roads like the Oria Road, the Tabago Road, the Muguai Road, Laguai-Nakorei Road, Tokaino Road, Piano Road, Aku Road, and so on are long and under the current poor conditions vehicles and their passengers and cargo track them up and down to better serve their customers.

A Buka-Buin passenger pays K120 and earlier I thought this was a stealing of our hard-earned money by the service providers. But later I learned that this cost was worth the service they provide us. There is value to the K120 fare we pay.

All Buin vehicles generally depart Buin for Buka on Mondays and overnights in Buka and returns to Buin on Tuesdays. They make their journey to fit the days in a manner that on every Friday all vehicles must return from Buka to rest over the weekend at home.

On the return journey to Buka all passengers experience the same pattern of travelling the villages and their road and depart for Buka by around 12 midday and reach Buka by 4 PM. 

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