PNG Power chief Bekker resigns after nine months in job – 8th MD to quit

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PNG Power Ltd managing director Flagon Bekker
PNG Power Ltd managing director Flagon Bekker addressing workers at a sit-in protest on Friday. Image: Charlie Dumavi/PNG Bulletin

By Gorethy Kenneth in Port Moresby

PNG Power Limited managing director Flagon Bekker resigned over the weekend citing family issues after serving the Papua New Guinean utility for nine months as he faced strong pressure over power woes nationwide.

He comes the eighth head of the country’s national electricity supplier to resign from the position over the last six years.

The turnover of top management has been very high since the termination of former boss John Tangit in 2015 under the chairmanship of Larry Andagali.

Tangit served his full term and was serving a second when he was removed.

The PPL board has also had a very high turnover – William Kenjibi was board chairman and replaced by Joshua Bakiri in 2015 until he faced elections and was replaced by Robert Bradshaw as acting.

Larry Andagali served his full three-year term until Andrew Ogil took over between 2016 and 2018. Peter Nupiri succeeded Ogil until this year when Moses Maladina was appointed.

Before Tangit’s leadership, Bougainvillean Tony Koiri was head of PPL and achieved a profit of K50 million.

Biggest profit
Tangit and Larry Andagali, however, had the biggest profit announced in 2016 before he was removed, with a K56 million margin. Since then, the company has struggled, even dropping to more than K100 million in the red.

Maladina announced over the weekend the resignation of Bekker effective immediately, indicating the appointment of Obed Batia as officer-in-charge of PNG Power while a more formal engagement was finalised.

“Consequently, I have put in place an officer-in-charge to oversee the operations until such time as the NEC/shareholder makes an appointment,” he said.

“In the interim, Mr Obed Batia will be the officer-in-charge. Mr Batia is the incumbent strategic adviser to the MD’s office and has more than 30 years of experience holding various senior positions within the company.

I have every faith in Mr Batia’s ability to provide much needed stability.

“The chairman and Board of PNG Power will provide the new officer-in-charge and the leadership team with its full support, during the interim.

“We assure all the PNG Power employees and their families, key stakeholders and suppliers and valued PPL customers of continued stability during this transition period.

‘Key priority’
“It remains our key priority, to focus on the objectives of our annual operating plan and to deliver on a promise to provide accessible, affordable and reliable energy services to the people of Papua New Guinea.

“On behalf of the board, management and staff of PNG Power, we thank Mr Bekker for his service to PNG Power and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

“I would like to take this opportunity also to thank Mr Bekker for his time here at PPL and to wish him well, as he returns to his family in Australia.”

The PNG Bulletin reported yesterday that Bekker was under pressure from disgruntled PNG Power workers that confronted him on Friday in a sit-in protest regarding their Enterpriser Agreement which he had not addressed on several occasions and other associated management issues.

Gorethey Kenneth is a senior PNG Post-Courier journalist.

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