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Billion kina bridge-build will boost Highlands

Bridge at Ukarumpa Easterm Highlands
Washouts on the Highlands Highway are common. Bridge at Ukarumpa,  Eastern Highlands, 2016


AUCKLAND – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $325 million (K1.1 billion) to the Papua New Guinea government to upgrade 430 kilometres of the Highlands Highway.

The massive project, which will be a boon to three million people living in the Highlands, was signed by the ADB's Pacific director general, Leah Gutierrez, and PNG treasurer, Ian Ling-Stuckey

The highway is PNG's most important national road and runs through five Highlands provinces in the country’s most populous and resource-abundant region.

As a result of the proposal 71 bridges between Lae’s Nadzab Airport and Mt Hagen’s Kagamuga Airport will be replaced with weather-resistant structures.

The bridges will include pedestrian walkways and many 20 will have roadside market areas, toilets and bathing facilities for the community, which the PNG government says will provide safer amenities for women.

“The sustainable Highlands Highway investment program [will] develop critical transport infrastructure and better connect rural communities,” Gutierrez said.

“It is also training the next generation of women civil engineers who will continue to connect communities for decades to come.”

A good talking point but ‘generation’ seemed a stretch for the three women to be instructed in bridge design and assessment techniques.

“This project is creating more opportunities for about three million people in the Highlands region, both in terms of business activity and widening access to social services,” said Ling-Stuckey.

“Enhanced safety is a key feature and road users will benefit from shorter travel times and lower vehicle operating costs.

“Maintaining the road and enhanced connectivity will increase mobility and encourage farmers to shift from subsistence to market-based, high-volume agriculture.”

Sources: Pacific News Desk, Radio New Zealand; The National, Port Moresby


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Philip Kai Morre

The reconstruction of bridges (what about the roads?) on the Highlands Highway is an important infrastructure development that we really need.

But how about the feeder roads and bridges in more remote areas to link to the main highway.

People need roads more than any other development for basic services. In Simbu we need road links to Kerema and the National Capital District and other parts of the country.

Arthur Williams

On the weekend I was reading the semi-annual report of this 10-year program. It was about Tranche 1 and covered July-December 2020.

It is a report of 70 pages with the final three being photos of the project.

"The SHHIP is a 10-year program and implements in three tranches as following:

"Tranche 1 is being implemented between 2019 and 2022 and includes (i) road maintenance and road improvement works, (ii) drainage and slope protection works, (iii) road safety improvements as well.

"Tranche 2 shall be implemented between 2023 and 2025 and includes (i) continue road maintenance and road investment works, (ii) widen all 29 single lane bridges to two lanes with pedestrian footpaths, (iii) repair, reinforce and reconstruct as appropriate all (40) two-lane bridges.

"Tranche 3 shall be implemented between 2026 and 2028 and includes (i) continue road maintenance and road improvement works, (ii) build a new twolane bypass to divert heavy and through traffic around Goroka because the dense urban fabric cannot accommodate a four-lane highway, (iii) build about 20 km of truck climbing lanes in the steep slopes of the Kassam and Daulo Passes, (iv) build two truck weigh stations in Jiwaka and Goroka; and build two logistics platforms for the trade of fresh produce in Jiwaka and Goroka."

Just a few:

Quite a lot of time, and thus money, by the contractor has been spent on HIV/AIDS awareness along the 430km of what it calls the Highlands Highway, not the Okuk Highway.

This is sadly a name not in vogue with the current public service elites. Possibly they have been born since the Highlands' hero died in 1986. Yet strangely it is used in the URL address.

What surprised me in this typical national government reporting to all international funds was that it had many pages on the ladies.

In fact it has a gender action plan and quite a number of pages in this half-yearly report are concerned with that.
Pages 57-64 especially but numerous other pages too.

The ex-kiaps would be happy, I guess, to see that any monetary payments due to females must be paid direct to the lady concerned. Not her hubby or clan leader.

#16 of the photos at the end of the report shows a female labourer making a very basic run-off drain using river stones. Female labour to 20 December 2020 was about 21% of the workforce.

Part of the social infrastructure planned is for markets, bus stops and toilets and, contrary to the winds of change in the West, it specifies there must be toilets for each sex. None of your single sex crapping.

The summarised report was prepared by 'Govind Prasad Bhatt, International Social Safeguards Specialist / SHHIP PMO (DoW) January 2021'.

It seems the Covid pandemic has delayed the progress of Tranche 1's first two work years. Details for the three sections completion % rates are:

CW1 - Nadzab turnoff to Henganofi Bridge, 210 km - 42%

CW2 - Henganofi Bridge to Mangiro & Miunde to Kagamuga turnoff, 105.5 km - 28%

CW3 - Mangiro to Miunde, 57 km - 22%

Bernard Corden

One billion kina will also buy many lamb flaps and cartons of SP leswara.

Harry Topham

I did not see any provision for a Police Beat shop, they will need it, these new bridges will be a mecca for thieves and thugs.

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