The villages along Ward 7 in Matalai, Namatanai District of New Ireland province were hotspots for vehicle theft and vandalism. Youth under the influence of alcohol and drugs hung around the roadside and occasionally harassed the public.

Iola Tamtu, an Australia Awards PNG alumni from Matalai, observed that most criminal activities occurred at night when perpetrators used the cover of darkness for their unwarranted activities.

Iola thought the installation of streetlights along those dark areas would have a greater level of security. Applying for an Australia Awards PNG alumni grant, Iola proposed the supply and installation of 21 solar streetlights along Ward 7.

Her grant was approved and in 2021 and she managed a local team to erect 20 solar streetlights along Ward 7 and one streetlight at the Australian war memorial in Kavieng town. She explained that placing a streetlight at the memorial was an expression of her people’s gratitude to the Australian Government for supporting the Matalai solar light project.

Iola reports a decrease in harassment and vandalism since. Vehicle owners now commute after sunset with less anxiety about their safety.  Pedestrians are seen walking the roads at night and the community is happy to have solar lights.

Aligned with the New Ireland Government’s development goals and their Lighting New Ireland subsidy policy, Iola’s project promotes sustainable energy sources, cost effective delivery and environmentally friendly infrastructure development solutions in the province.