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