Work on the runway has been going on here for the last 2 years but is about to reach an interesting phase, with planes landing at the hospital end of the runway from next month for several weeks. They will use two containers and the ground floor of the “Green House” at the U.C.S.I. as the terminal building.
The runway runs East-West with the town of Lambete on the east side , including the terminal. The hospital is about a mile to the west at the other end of the runway. It was built by the Japanese force after their defeat by the U.S at Guadalcanal in 1941/2. They apparently tried to hide the runway by covering it with trees, but local people informed the U.S. marines of its location. On one night before the Battle for Munda began, J.F.K. and 10 marines were shipwrecked near Gizo. He sent his famous “message in a bottle” to his fellow Marines based on the island of Rendova.
The work is contracted to a New Zealand firm Downer, who are several months behind schedule. There was a problem with the supply of gravel, which prompted the P.M.’s visit last week. We have asked the firm to look at the water pump and also to extend the hospital “Bomb-hole” as it is nearly full of clinical waste and old hospital equipment. Apparently they will move to work on the runway at Gizo when the job is finished here. At least they will not have to deal with unexploded bombs there as they have here.
One advantage of the planes landing on our doorstep is that transferring patients by plane should be easier. The Dash 8 is working again, so at least the service is back to normal, even if the runway is disrupted.