Repairs bring a spark to community

Electricians and carpenters from the 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment teamed up with tradies from the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) and British Army to repair homes for families living on Lombrum Naval Base, Manus Island.

As part of Exercise Puk Puk, 68 homes for PNGDF families were improved, as well as roadworks in the neighbourhood.

The focus was repairing faults to ensure the safety of PNGDF families in their homes, while improving trade skills and sharing knowledge among the partner forces.

Site foreman Lance Corporal Raimee Brook said one of the houses in the neighbourhood had an electrical fire.

“So we’ve fixed that house and now we’re going through and fixing all the other switchboards to ensure they’re safe,” Lance Corporal Brook said.

“We’re also trying to fix other things throughout the house that may cause electrical issues.

“These homes deteriorate with multiple families moving in and out each year, so a lot of the houses had power points come off the walls, which is unsafe.

“We’re also going through other estates on Lombrum Naval Base to replace stairs and decking.”

Lance Corporal Brook said working alongside and sharing knowledge with PNGDF tradespeople was rewarding.

“Laurie has been learning off the Australian electricians, acquiring different skills that he can take away and use where he usually works in Lae,” she said.

“The partnership has been really good, just knowing that we can do something to help, and going to multiple houses allows us to help everyone, and every single family.

“I’ve loved it here. The community and the kids are so lovely and they get around it, they help us and they bring us fruit every day.”

PNGDF Lieutenant Robert Paka was optimistic about the work the combined trade team had completed for the families.

“This exercise is basically about interoperability, where forces from other countries come together to share ideas,” Lieutenant Paka said.

“It’s been exciting and great to meet our counterparts from Australia and the UK.”

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