During a fishing trip earlier this year, Minister of Health Dr. Emais Roberts and a few of his buddies, while fishing the familiar waters of Ngardmau and Ngeremlengui States, decided to stop by the Ngardmau Dock for lunch. And as they enjoyed the breeze and engage in small talk, the Minister noted the dilapidating condition of the rest house, the central attraction and infrastructure of the dock.

First built nearly 20 years ago, the Ngardmau State Dock rest house is a domed concrete structure without walls, with wooden beams and roofing tin overhang. Exposed to salt air, the roof was rusty and suffered from major leaks; the wooden part of the structure was rotting away due to age and wet weather.

The rest house is heavily used every day, with fishermen seeking shelter during inclement weather or divers needing a comfortable place to have lunch.

In his youth, Dr. Roberts grew up in nearby Ngermasech, a now abandoned hamlet shared by both Ngardmau and Ngeremlengui. While living there, Dr. Roberts frequently visited Ngardmau, where he has many relatives and friends. To this day, the Minister considers himselfbuikraNgardmau.

 The group finished their lunch, resumed their day of fishing and eventually returned home. Over the following weekends, Dr. Roberts, an avid fisherman, continued to visit the Dock for lunch during his outings with family, friends and colleagues.

As he would later relate, Dr. Roberts, while going about his busy schedule as Health Minister and physician, often thought about the Ngardmau Dock rest house and how it should be rehabilitated.

Simultaneously and separately, Ngardmau State Governor Johnston B. Aderkroi was already drawing up plans to renovate the structure – a popular gathering venue for fishermen, residents, tourists and visitors to the state. Working with his Public Works staff, Governor Aderkroi assigned his Projects Manager and the Public Works Director to oversee the work. With limited resources, the initial plan was simply to replace rotting structural wooden beams and clean up the area.

However, in early March, during a meeting between Minister Roberts and Governor Aderkroi on other issues at the Dock, the conversation turned to the condition of the rest house. And both leaders realized they each wanted to renovate the venue to make it much more attractive and welcoming for both residents and guests.

Thus, over the next several weekends, Dr. Roberts and the Governor would meet at the Dock on Saturdays and with help from friends and the state’s Public Works employees as well as members of the community, an extensive renovation project was undertaken.

From those initial humble plans, the work grew to include a complete overhaul of the rest house.

First, the Minister brought in a water blaster to pressure wash the entire concrete structure, including the dock side and parking areas. On another weekend, the minister brought paint, rollers, brushes, scrapers and other materials.

Still another time the Minister and members of Team Busongedelivered roofing tin, two by fours, nails, and other construction materials. Altogether, the Minister spent close to $10,000 of his own money to purchase materials and other amenities towards the renovation project. And spent hours working hand in hand with Governor Aderkroi and state employees until the renovation project’s completion in late March.

Today, the Minister continues to visit the Dock during breaks from his hectic schedule where he mingles with grateful residents and admiring visitors.

Governor Aderkroi and the people of Ngardmau extend their gratitude to Minister Roberts for his generosity in helping to restore and improve this important infrastructure in our State. And we look forward to continuing this cooperation and mutual friendship with Minister Roberts and TeamBusonge, true friends of Ngardmau State.

Busonge members include the Minister, Jason “Siki” Kesolei, Allen Takada, MarkyBeketaut and Senator Aric Nakamura. (PR)